It’s well into summertime now and the tomatoes are ripening fast and furious. We don’t yet have the full panoply of heirloom tomatoes, but the usual red ones are all over the place, begging you to take them home. You say you’ve already had your fill of bruschetta, caprese salad and big tomato slices on hamburgers. Now what? At this point, I always go back in time to when my mother made my favorite tomato dish for the first time. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I cautiously asked, “What’s that?” Her simple reply, “Don’t worry. You’ll like it.” And, boy, did I!
Gazpacho—essentially, chilled, chunky tomato soup with an assortment of vegetable pieces in it. It’s cold. It’s low calorie. It’s good. And the best time to make it is right now. This recipe is essentially the one my mother, Dorothy, first made for me, but I’ve made a couple of minor adaptations over the years. I tend to use more tomato juice (the full 4 cups) than my mother’s recipe called for (2 cups), but then she always tends to adjust her recipes on the fly as she eyeballs the dish (the confidence that comes with experience). I also added the garlic and I changed from salad oil to olive oil. Don’t worry if this gazpacho seems to get a bit solid in the refrigerator; just stir it well and serve it up. It’ll be great.
WI wine recommendation: Pairing wine with tomatoes is a tricky proposition and opinions are all over the board. I recommend a crisp, acidic white wine from a cooler climate, such as a Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Soave or Tocai Friulano.
3–4 lbs ripe tomatoes*
1/2 cup cucumber (peeled & seeds removed), finely diced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2–4 cups tomato juice
Peel and chop tomatoes into small pieces and add cucumber, onion, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper. Add tomato juice to desired consistency. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or longer. Serve chilled. In theory, this soup keeps well in refrigerator for at least one week, but I always eat it sooner.
As an option, garnish your gazpacho with some avocado slices or a few cooked shrimp or some chopped cilantro or a basil leaf or even a dollop of créme fraîche. Toast some sourdough bread slices, rub them on both sides with fresh garlic and drizzle olive oil over them and serve on the side (unless you’re trying to stay with the low calorie concept).
*Equivalent of 4–5 large tomatoes or 12 smaller tomatoes (best to go by weight). Really large tomatoes can get a little pulpy, so consider using medium or smaller tomatoes whenever possible.
July 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm
Yum! Since our tomatoes are still blossoms (late in planting) I will have to rely on memory. You’re right this is an absolute winner of a dish. Will relate the article when I see Dorothy, she’ll be pleased. (Try using spicy tomato juice to give it a little heat).