So, yeah, I don’t think I have a green thumb. My garden is vacillating between brown, desperate, and dying, and so completely overgrown that I can’t even find the arugula for the trees.
And, talking about trees, my tomatillo plant is the size of a baby oak tree. Note to self: if planting tomatillos, leave lots of room.
Just like last year, I had great success with several varieties of hot peppers and cherry tomatoes. I did try to plant plum / roma tomatoes plus a couple other varieties, but the yield was rather low (I think I could have bought the tomatoes for about 1/2 of what I spent on the plants. However, the tomatoes I did manage to harvest were rather spectacular, if I don’t say so myself. Since I don’t actually LIKE tomatoes (so ask me why I put 10 plants in the ground..)
And so, I decided to make Gazpacho. Because it’s hot out again, and I don’t mind the taste of marinated tomatoes. Plus, I love Gazpacho. It’s just so full of flavor. I found a very simple recipe that doesn’t use tomato juice (my research into gazpacho informed me that this is a crime) in this wonderful cookbook, River Cottage Veg, that Random House of Canada had sent me at the beginning of the summer. It’s the most gorgeous book, with both simple & obvious salads to more complex and incredibly tasty dishes like the Spinach, Penne and Cheese Spouffle (page 43).
This book really embraces nature’s bounty, and so was perfect for using my bounty. Especially because, as the author, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, says, “It goes without saying that the tomatoes need to be full of flavor or you’ll be selling your soup short.”
I made some modifications to the original recipe because, hey, I’m me, and I have trouble with recipes (which is why I can’t make jell-o or ice cream).
Gazpacho (Vegan, Vegetarian) (Adapted from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
What You’ll Need:
1 stale whole wheat sub bun, or two slices of whole wheat bread, crusts removed
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 to 3 lbs of assorted tomatoes, very ripe (I used a mix of plum and big beefsteak looking tomatoes I got from President’s Choice -that I think are called Mighty Mato-but don’t hold me to that.)
1/2 large english cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, rough chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, rough chopped
1/2 small red onion, rough chopped
1 medium jalapeno, sliced (if you don’t like it too spicy, scrape out the seeds)
3 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar
Freshly ground salt & black pepper to taste
What You’ll Do:
1. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a bowl with the garlic. Pour about 3/4 cup of cold water over top and leave it.
2. Place tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them for a few minutes, and then cut off the top and bottom, squeezing or scoop out any seeds and peeling (the peel should come right off). Hint: to seed plum tomatoes, cut off the top and just squeeze. The seeds will come right out.) Place the seeds and skins in a wire sieve over a measuring cup. Place the tomato flesh into a blender, and then press on the stuff in the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. (This part is messy yet somehow gratifying.)
3. Place the soaked bread, and the other ingredients, including the tomato juices, into a blender and process until as smooth (or chunky) as you like. Season with salt & pepper. If you like it smooth, press through the sieve again (but why would you?)
Cover and chill, then taste and adjust seasonings. You can garnish with croutons, or shredded basil or parsley.
This gaspacho is a lighter pink in color and is addictive. I will warn you. My son was drinking it out of the jar.