This summer, I've spent a lot of time in the garden.
I've planted, weeded, watered, and tended. And I'm pretty pleased with the results.
This is the first year that I've moved my herbs out of containers and into their own beds. I'm thrilled with the results -- the basil is yielding far faster than I can use it, the rosemary is fragrant and hardy, and the sage is as pretty as any ornamental plant.
Once or twice a summer, I make gazpacho. It's really only worth the effort to make this soup when the vegetables are at the peak of their freshness. The kitchen smells so amazing as the sweetness of the tomatoes combines with the sharp notes of garlic and onions and the peppery scent of basil.
Most recipes I've found call for canned tomato juice. Now, it's never made a ton of sense to me to select the freshest locally-grown garden ingredients and then water them down with the weird chemical taste of store-bought juice. Between the sodium content and the BPA risk, the commercially prepared stuff negates so many of the health benefits of fresh vegetables. So, I juice the tomatoes that I use in the gazpacho. Trust me, it's so worth the time and mess.
- 20 medium to large tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 cucumbers
- 1-2 bell peppers
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Prep the vegetables: peel the onion and garlic. Peel and seed the bell peppers and cucumbers. Cut into large chunks.Place vegetables in food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside in a bowl.
- Prep the tomatoes: Fill a large cooker about half-full of water. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Core the tomatoes, slash the skin at the bottom and place, a few at a time, into the boiling water. Leave in 30-45 seconds, then remove and allow to cool. Peel and the tomatoes, setting the pulp and seeds aside. Place the "meat" of the tomato in the food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Make tomato juice: strain pulp and seeds with a sieve until you have about 2-3 cups of juice.
- Make gazpacho: In a large bowl, mix tomato mixture with vegetable mixture. Add juice and stir until completely blended.
- Season: Add about 1/3 cup each olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper (about 1/4 cup each). Add chopped basil to taste. Chill for several hours or overnight.
I doubled this recipe (40 tomatoes, 2 onions, etc.) to make six quarts for a family reunion this weekend. The recipe is really flexible -- basically just keep two parts tomatoes to one part vegetables, and adjust the rest to taste.