I'm pretty much on a diet of chopped vegetable dishes. Every meal I've eaten in the past two weeks has either consisted solely of a) potato salad, b) green bean salad with basil, sautéed radishes, and hunks of mozzarella, c) citrusy coleslaw, or a hearty helping of one of those next to some protein that I was mostly eating just to stave off devouring a giant bowlful of one of those salads. Now that tomatoes are starting to come in? Oh boy. Watch out. Is it possible to eat all of your daily calories from tomatoes? Can I try? No? Okay, I'll throw in some grilled corn on the cob slathered with homemade lime mayonnaise and queso añejo. And some peaches and cherries. That's fine. God I love summer.
Gazpacho is a little difficult for me. On the one hand, it's probably one of the best soups you can eat. On the other hand, it seems a little shameful to purée fresh, ripe, local (expensive) heirloom tomatoes. Maybe that's because I don't have any of my own in a garden in my back yard. I kind of feel that they're like precious gems and to adulterate them with anything more than some coarse sea salt and a basil leaf is to somehow cheapen them. But I freaked out a little when I realized that our 18 days of above 90 degree weather had finally broken and I hadn't made gazpacho. Gazpacho is for 97 degree days. But hey, it just so happens that it's pretty damn good at 83 degrees too.
Since there's not much to gazpacho, you must use good tomatoes. Don't put off this recipe until the winter or something. Go out and splurge on some beautiful tomatoes. And if you have them in your garden, you are lucky and please send some to me. And as with most traditional and iconic recipes, there are a hundred versions, all hotly contested as being the one perfect version I'm sure. I don't have too many strong opinions on what vegetables should or not should be included in gazpacho and what the levels of vinegar and oil should be. I do strongly feel, though, that using tomato juice is a no no. I mean, you're trying to celebrate gorgeous summer tomatoes. Why would you mix them with bottled tomato juice? Gah. But if you want to leave out the cucumber and red pepper, or add in some parsley, go for it. Topping gazpacho with a hard boiled egg is also extremely acceptable.
2.5 lbs heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, seeded (cut in half width-wise then in quarters length-wise and seeds cut off) and chopped
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1. Mix together the vegetables in a large bowl.
2. In a blender, purée garlic, salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Scoop about half of the vegetable mixture into the blender. Blend until smooth, in batches if necessary.
3. Pour blended veggies back into the bowl of chopped vegetables and mix.
That's it. That's my gazpacho. It's wonderful. You can certainly chill it if you need some extra cooling off, but I think room temperature allows the flavors to be their best. Unless you're in that weird heat dome. Then it might be best chilled. Some garnishes you could use if you haven't already started to dig in, are finely chopped cucumbers and red peppers, parsley, toasted almonds, and crumbled/chopped hard boiled egg.
Seriously gardeners, send me your tomatoes. I hear that you have wayyy too many to eat. Pretty sure.