Ok, not really. Because there’s no such thing as too many, ripe, red, summer tomatoes, right?
I mean, just look at these guys!
Seeing as there are only two of us in the house now, and the vines are giving us more fruit each day, the tomatoes need to be used up on a regular schedule. Soft tomatoes are a favorite home for fruit flies, which I hate.
I’ve already done several editions of caprese salad (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil), and tomato-cucumber salads (with red onions, mint, feta cheese, and white-wine vinegar). Not to mention regular green salads, sliced tomatoes on sandwiches, etc. Faced with this pile earlier in the week, and a similar number almost ready to come in, I was looking for a way to use them more than one at a time, and it was too hot to think about pasta sauce.
What would say summertime, be cool, refreshing, and quick to prepare?
Gazpacho. (Oooh, bonus! I can use up some more of the cucumbers,too!)
It’s become very trendy lately to call any chilled summer soup with a bit of vinegar in it ‘gazpacho,’ with exactly the mixed results you might imagine. Some are sublime, lots are sub-par. I had two very good variations on a trip to Cluny, France last year; one with melon, the other with green peas.(If anyone has the green pea recipe, I’d love to have it! I’ve had no luck in replicating it!)
What I wanted was a traditional tomato gazpacho; the pureed style, not the chunky. Of course, there are as many recipes out there as there are cooks – lots of them would tell me I wasn’t ‘traditional’ if I wanted smooth instead of chunky. Oh, well…
The original recipe I used came from my favorite veggie cookbook, Vegetable Harvest, by Patricia Wells. It’s my go-to when looking for something different to do with fresh produce, and I highly recommend it if you want to broaden your vegetable horizons. Like all cooks, I made some changes of my own, and came up with this:
2 lbs. red, ripe garden tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1 medium red onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp salt
Quarter and core the tomatoes, but do not peel. Set aside.
Peel the cucumbers and cut into chunks. Seed the pepper, cut into chunks. Cut the onion into (you guessed it!) chunks. Peel the garlic cloves, and cut in half. (they’re already chunks.) Set all of this aside in a different bowl.
Place the tomatoes in the large bowl of a food processor. Process for 30 seconds or so, to break them down. Add the other vegetables, salt, and vinegar, and process until it’s your desired consistency – a minute and a half or two minutes.
You can eat this right away if you want, but I think it’s better if the flavors meld in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. Some people serve it with hot sauce.
Summer salad in a bowl, ready in under 20 minutes. Enjoy!