Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hot Enough For Ya?? by Gardener Janet

OK, today was one of those July days we know is inevitable; but the first day each season that it really hits near that 100 degree mark – that’s when I make gazpacho.  Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish cold soup combining tomatoes, tomato juice, olive oil, and vinegar as well as finely chopped vegetables; nothing is cooked, only chilled in the refrigerator.  I first tasted gazpacho in Spain about 25 years ago.  Ah…….I ate so much that the acid in the vinegar burned my mouth…(so my advice is: don’t eat it at every meal except breakfast for two weeks). 
Nothing says summer is here better than a cold, healthy bowl of gazpacho on the first scorching day of the summer.  It doesn’t matter if your garden tomatoes are not quite ready yet, or you haven’t yet harvested the first cucumber.  The farmer’s market or grocery store can help out during this heat wave in advance of harvest!
I usually start with the recipe found in “Colorado Cache Cookbook” (look under Mexican food).  Then I adapt with what I have in the garden (or the refrigerator):

    •    3 tomatoes, peeled (hint:  drop tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then place tomatoes in ice water…they are a snap to peel then).
    •    1 bell pepper (you pick the color.  I like yellow in gazpacho, traditionally, green is used)
    •    1 cucumber, peeled
    •    1 cup chopped celery
    •    ½ cup green onion
    •    4 cups tomato juice
    •    2 avocados, (chopped)
    •    5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    •    4 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
    •    1 tsp salt
    •    ½ tsp pepper
Chop all vegetables very finely.  Combine in a non-metallic bowl and chill (at least 4-5 hours).  The Spaniards make the soup minus the vegies and let you decide for yourself which ones to add from many small bowls of excruciatingly finely chopped vegetables.  In my house, they all go in the bowl (less mess to clean up).
Serve ice cold with a dollop of sour cream.  Croutons are also good on top!  Gazpacho is filling.  A side salad of mixed greens and you are done with dinner!
Bring on the heat!  I’m ready!!!