We are in the glory days of the farmers market and, wisely timed, National Farmers Market Week is here. The entire month of August is worth celebrating with summer’s best produce reaching its peak. Tomatoes are in full force. They never taste as sweet and bursting with juice as they do right now. It’s the season for gazpacho.
Even if I didn’t just return from a trip to Spain, I still would be making gazpacho every week. It takes little time and effort, the kids can help, and we drink it throughout summer’s hottest days. In Spain, gazpacho is often enjoyed from a glass, rather than as a soup. I like it this way, too. A glass of gazpacho in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is beating down in full strength, is the ultimate antidote to the worst heat. I find it quenches thirst better than a glass of ice water and it can be surprisingly filling.
It seems a little silly to list a recipe but I will. There are as many different variations of gazpacho as there are different regions in Spain and ultimately the final result relies on individual taste. The most important thing is to use the freshest ingredients, which for most come from the farmers market, if not directly from your own garden. I often take my purchased tomatoes and put them in a bowl outside to ripen in the sun for an afternoon. Never place tomatoes in the refrigerator.
It is common to add bread that has been soaked in water to create a smoother consistency but I don’t. I like the clean astringent glass of pure vegetables. Best-quality olive oil and sherry vinegar are key for me. I would never use balsamic. An assertive acidic twang is necessary to hold up to the acid in the tomatoes. Save the balsamic for a drizzle on fresh sliced tomatoes.
Grab the kids and let them practice their basic chopping. Removing all peels and seeds is best but precision is not necessary. If there are a few seeds left, the blender will erase the evidence.
It’s the perfect time to celebrate your local farmers market and following is the perfect recipe. It is unfussy, forgiving and satisfying just like the perfect summer’s day. Enjoy!
p.s. My girls and I will be at the Great Falls Farmers Market, Saturday, August 8 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., to demonstrate how to make gazpacho. We hope to see you there!
- 3 Large ripe tomatoes (or 4 medium tomatoes)
- 1 small to medium green bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup of best-quality virgin olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- Bring 6-8 cups of water to boil in a kettle.
- As water heats, using a knife score an "x" on the top and bottom of tomatoes. Place in a heat-proof bowl.
- When water comes to a boil, pour over tomatoes to cover. Using tongs, keep tomatoes under water.
- When tomato skin begins to split (after about 2 minutes), remove to a cutting board.
- When cool enough to handle, skins should peel back easily. Remove core and seeds, chop roughly and add to a glass pitcher or blender.
- Add remaining vegetables.
- Blend in a blender or using a hand blender until vegetables are pureed. While blending, add olive oil in a thin stream.
- Add vinegar and salt, to taste.
- Refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
- To serve, ladle into glasses to enjoy. If you like, serve in a bowl and provide bowls of cut peppers, tomatoes, onion for guests to add to their bowl of soup.