Is there anything more luscious tasting than a ripe, red tomato? August is the month when tomato plants mature and are laden with the weight of their fruit. That’s right, tomatoes come from flowers and contain seeds, the scientific definition of a fruit. This growing season, like every other, brings some learning along with the delicious produce. And I just have not quite mastered the successful growing of tomatoes, yet. The plants have grown well and are robust , all except for one that has been savaged by the mighty tomato worm. The worm(s), that I have not yet managed to find, are working their way down from the top and when I use the word “decimation” I am talking green stalks with no leaves. So I pondered my approach: garlic, green chile or cayenne pepper juice. Hmmm. So I settled on a combination of garlic and green chile juice. The garlic powder doesn’t work too well because the powder doesn’t flow out from a spray bottle well but nonetheless, I thought I would try to cover my bases. Just as an aside, I rub the garlic juice on the dogs’ ears when we are out on the trail. It works well for keeping all insects away including misquitoes, flies and bees.
So I doused the plant well and have been waiting for results. The good news is that no new damage has been done so far. Last evening I popped some tiny cherry tomatoes into my mouth while watering and they were bursting with flavor and the first of the tomatoes to mature. I have been contemplating which tomato recipe to offer this month, but the answer came easily, as it is one of my favorites and a summer soup that I often make called gazpacho. There was a lovely recipe on the Today Show presented by Chef Shea Gallante on July 10th of this year. I never follow a recipe exactly and so my first batch was more green than red because I had added too much parsley and cilantro, so I took those out of the 2nd batch and just used basil as my only green. The color turned out much better and so did the taste and so I am offering my own revised version of Chef Gallante’s gazpacho minus the crab.
My version: Gazpacho
5 organic on the vine, well ripened tomatoes
Large red pepper
One large cucumber
Large Red onion
Five sprigs of basil
2 cloves of garlic
Fano 9 grain bread, couple crusty slices torn into pieces
4 oz organic extra virgin olive oil
1 cup orange juice
1 oz sherry vinegar
Chop the tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, cucumber into large chunks along with the garlic cloves and basil and add them to a bowl along with the bread pieces. Pour the orange juice over the mixture, toss everything together and marinate overnight in an airtight container. Prior to making the soup, pour off any orange juice. Place the vegetables into the mixer in batches. Run on low until mixed then turn on high for a couple minutes until all ingredients are well mixed. Add the olive oil and the sherry vinegar to the last batch and mix it into the rest of the soup. Season to taste with black pepper and sea salt,then decorate with avocado slices and chopped chives on top. Serve immediately. The soup can be stored for another day in a tightly closed mason jar. Enjoy!!