A certain ambiguity takes over when tomato season comes bursting in. Vine ripened, locally-grown tomatoes are hands-down the best veggie in the world. Not only are they delicious sliced and eaten on their own, but they also lend themselves to so many cooking applications. Just image what Italian or Indian food looked like before Columbus brought back this versatile fruit to the Old World—a dull culinary landscape for sure!
But as much as I love tomatoes, the short season can transform me into a galley slave as my inner ant kicks in, and I begin to work feverishy to squirrel them away in anticipation of the winter months to come. While I am passionate about preserving, canning 22 pounds of tomatoes could steal anyone’s joy.
That is why gazpacho is such a blessing. Not only is it a refreshing, easy-to-make, ready-to-eat, delicious cold soup, but it also freezes very nicely. I know what you’re thinking–more processing?! But relax. Gazpacho doesn’t require the hullabaloo of removing skins, and you get a preserved product at the same time you made dinner.
This is my launching point recipe, but you can tweak it with different spices to blend with many different cuisines.
1 small clove garlic
¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (any combination of basil, tarragon, parsley, dill, oregano or chives)
2 or 3 slices stale bread
1 small red onion, quartered
1 lbs. cucumber, peeled and de-seeded
2 lbs. tomatoes, cored and de-seeded
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
Add ingredients one by one to a food processor or blender and puree. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop ingredients and mix. Serve with bread, cheese or summer sausage for a light quick meal.
You can create other versions based on different cuisines by changing ingredients. Think of gazpacho as a finely chopped or puréed salad and then let your imagination go.
MEXICAN: Tomatillos or tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno pepper, cucumber, bread, garlic, olive oil, and lime. Garnish with cubed avocado.
INDIAN: Tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, red pepper, radishes, green chili, cumin, tomato paste, vegetable stock, garlic, bread, olive oil, and lemon.
FRENCH: Tomatoes alone with lemon, tarragon and parsley garlic, bread, olive oil.
GREEK: Follow the recipe for Classic Gazpacho above using oregano and parsley as the herbs. Also add a sweet red bell pepper and kalamata olives. Garnish with cubed feta.
Preserve It: Place gazpacho in freezer-safe bags or plastic containers in desired proportions, then label and freeze. I like to put the gazpacho in 1 – 2 cup plastic containers leaving 1-inch headspace for expansion in the freezer. I use these later in packed lunches. They keep the lunch cool while defrosting.
They look like art—a sculpture of inviting green. Available only in farmers markets and gardens for a few weeks in June, their ephemeral nature and rarity only adds to their allure. If you are like me, you will spy them in the market and feel compelled to buy them even if you have no clue as to what to do with them.
More than vegetative art, the scape is the flowering stalk of hard neck garlic. Young tender stalks grow in beautiful curlicues, but as they mature, the stalks straighten and dry and the flowering bulb turns to seed. To direct the plant’s energy away from making seeds and towards producing a large, flavorful garlic bulb, the farmer removes the tender edible scape. Viola! My most coveted springtime treat with a taste nearly identical to garlic with a fresher, milder, more herbal quality.
What to do with it once you’ve brought it home? Well you could chop it up and add it to stir fry or perhaps pickle it, but I suggest that you make Garlic Scape Paste and add it to everything you would have added garlic…and then some.
1 bunch, about 14 scapes, flowers removed and stalks coarsely chopped
⅔ cup oil (olive, canola, grape or safflower are good choices)
Remove the flower portion of each scape as it can be bitter. I like to save them and use as a garnish.
In a food processor, add scapes and pulse until finely minced.
Next, slowly pour in the oil while processing.
Transfer paste to a glass or plastic jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Paste will keep refrigerated for about 2 weeks. Add to recipes as needed. You can also freeze it.
Preserve It: Buy a few bunches at the market, make it en masse, and freeze. Place paste in a freezer bag, press flat removing as much air as possible, label and seal. If you freeze it flat on the shelf, you can break off bits of garlic scape paste as you need it as long as it lasts. Even if freezer real estate is an issue for you, put this on the A-list. It is a tasty time saver-—better-than-minced-garlic-flavor-at-the-ready.
Cooking with Kids:
Have your kids help with the prep by using scissors to remove the flowers, and cut the scapes into chunks for easy processing. They are also very good at pushing buttons…I mean for the food processor.