Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fresh Heirloom Vegetables _ Gazpacho

Despite the record heat we have experienced this year, the positive side of summer is always the vegetable garden. Although this year the vegetable doth protest.

Brassicas don't tolerate the heat very well, and couple that with extreme dryness_ the aphids have a field day. Interestingly the heirloom tomato plants are vibrant and healthy, but have been much slower to ripen than in previous years; we have had one or two here and there, and finally the first 20 pounds were harvested the middle of August.

Walla Walla onions were cured and stored in July. The Orange bell peppers have been gradually turning color throughout the latter part of August, and to say the least, the cucumbers have gone gangbusters.

With all ingredients available, it seemed time to make something special. Fresh raw vegetables mean Gazpacho. Sliced, diced and blended into a cold, refreshing and nutritious soup, it is perfect on a hot summer day. Serve as an appetizer, lunch, dinner, or at the end of a meal as you might find in Spain, and yes, Gazpacho's origin_ Spanish.

Recipes abound and to suit ones preference: use stale bread or no bread; smooth and silky puree or slightly chunky, pass the tomatoes through a sieve (to remove the seeds) or not; add water or no water... but one thing is certain_ fresh! vegetables! yes, a liquid salad!

Organic Heirloom Vegetable List:
Tomatoes: Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Brandywine, and San Marzano
Sweet Peppers: Orange Bell and Bull Nose Bell
Jalapeno Pepper: Traveler
Sweet Onion: Walla Walla
Cucumber: Suyo Long and Armenian (no need to peel these)

Gazpacho from Diana’s kitchen

4 pounds fresh vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 sweet red or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 sweet (Walla Walla) onion, chopped
2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 TB balsamic vinegar
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoon kosher salt (taste test)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

fresh basil leaves, chopped

Fill a pot halfway full of water and bring to a boil. With a paring knife make an X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to cold water for about a minute. Drain, peel and core the tomatoes. Chop.

We hand chop all the vegetables and place them in a large mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Add the remaining ingredients: olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Transfer portions of the mixture to a Cuisinart or blender and pulse 5-10 seconds at a time to desired consistency (we prefer a more rustic soup). Return the mixture to a glass bowl.

Stir, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or better yet, overnight. Serve with a slice of crusty bread or a crostini spread with some avocado. Simply delish!

Cook’s Note: One of our favorite cucumbers is the Armenian that we used in our first batch. No need to remove either the skin or seeds. And today I used the Suyo Long for a second batch, seeds and skin intact. Can hardly wait for tomorrow.