Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drink Your Summer with Gazpacho

Sunday morning is the Farmers' Market in Ojai and for a small town (pop. 8,200) we are blessed with tremendous farmers and incredible variety, ranging from local olive oil and fresh caught fish to citrus fruits and the traditional summer veggies. Inspired and in awe of the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and fragrant green peppers I decided to make an old favorite, Gazpacho.

For those of you who think you don't like Gazpacho, you need to bolster your courage and give it another chance because, like so many other things, nothing compares to your own homemade version. This is especially true with Gazpacho because you can tailor it to your taste or that of your family. For instance, I love my Gazpacho chunky, spicy and full of cilantro. Others may opt for the "smoothie" consistency with basil or parsley. That's what makes this summer recipe so much fun to make.

It goes without saying that this is especially great on a hot day. It's a garden in your mouth!

Kirsten's Gazpacho

2-3 large ripe tomatoes, cored, quartered (I love using heirlooms like purple cherokee and a few really red ones to keep the color ruby red)
1 stalk celery, chopped (inner stalks are sweetest)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup water (or natural tomato juice if you have it on hand)
1-2 large garlic cloves
1/2 onion, peeled, quartered
2 tablespoons cilantro
1-2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
dash of hot sauce like Tobasco

(if you like it chunky as I do, set aside some diced celery, pepper, and cucumber to add after blending rest of ingredients)

If possible, use blender since a food processor tends to liquefy everything too fine (at least for my taste). Blend garlic, onion and half of water; add remaining vegetables and water and pulse to blend completely. When blended to desired consistency, add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and stir in olive oil and tobasco. Serve chilled (makes approximately 1 blender pitcher full).

Other variations:
substitute red pepper for green pepper for sweeter taste
substitute basil for cilantro (omit hot sauce)

Let me know if you have other additions you enjoy!


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