Red does not look good on me. I admit it. But when it comes to vegetables… it’s my FAVORITE color! Tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños, watermelons, beets, red onions, radishes… Okay, a couple of those are technically fruits, but they’re still on my list.
Tomatoes are at the top. I rarely eat them if they’re out of season, but boy do I make up for it when they’re fresh. I eat them by themselves; on sandwiches; in salads; with a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh basil and mozzarella; in a sauce for pasta; grilled; in salsa or pico de gallo; puréed into a jam; and in soup. Their’s nothing I like better on a chilly fall day than cream of tomato soup, but, in the heat of the summer, one of my go-to meals is GAZPACHO! It’s literally a red bowl full of health!
Gazpacho is perhaps the easiest thing I make, besides buttered toast. You literally throw all the ingredients in a blender and press a button, then serve it cold. For working moms, or moms racing around to summer camp and movies and play dates, it’s an ideal lunch or dinner. It can be made hours or even a couple of days ahead. In fact, the flavors only intensify the longer it sits! And since there’s no cooking, it’s a perfect meal for the kids to help prepare, as long as an adult handles the sharp knives for the little ones.
I’ve seen recipes lately for variations on the tomato version which feature watermelon. I like to add watermelon to a more traditional gazpacho for an added depth of flavor. Try and find fresh, organic ingredients from a farm or farmers’ market. It really does make a difference. You may substitute regular cucumbers, but I prefer the Persian or striped Armenian variety – they have no seeds and are super crunchy and sweet!
1 cup fresh watermelon, no seeds
1 cup vegetable juice
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked salt
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (and seeded – if you like less heat)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups Persian or Armenian cucumber, chopped
1 tsp tamarind sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups + 1 more cup ripe red tomatoes, seeded and chopped
the juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
extra basil + fresh parsley + fresh chives + fresh dill for garnish
sour cream for garnish
Put all the ingredients in a blender in the above order, reserving the extra cup of tomatoes.
This will fill your blender to the top. Place the lid on and blend on LOW until almost smooth. The ingredients will settle and create space for the remaining cup of tomatoes. Add this and continue to blend until combined. Chill for several hours. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve with a dollop of sour cream, freshly chopped basil, parsley, chives and dill; a side of garlic toast; and a glass of Chardonnay (for the adults)!
Yield: Approximately 6 cups. Total prep time: 30 mins.
[box] Hint: Got leftover tomatoes? Drizzle slices with extra virgin olive oil and top them with fresh mozzarella and basil for a light “caprese salad” lunch![/box]