What happens when you chase a wet/cool spring with a wicked hot summer? Produce explosion. All of my farm and farmers market friends are remarking that we are in the middle of a bonafide tomato bonanza.
At Casa Purvis, I took evasive action several weeks ago: Among the many projects I tackled during a recent stay-home-and-cook vacation was bacon making. I ordered 3 pounds of pork belly from a local farm, but my order got misinterpreted as 5 pounds. Not a problem: This is one summer when 5 pounds of bacon, cured, smoked and tucked in the freezer, will get regular starring roles on BLTs, BTs and tomato-heavy salads sprinkled with crispy, brown lardons.
Of course, it doesn't take home-cured bacon to celebrate the Mighty Tomato in a summer like this. We've been mowing through platters of caprese salads and bowls of tomato wedges tossed with a little olive oil, salt and sherry vinegar.
This weekend, I'm hungering for a big batch of gazpacho, the perfect thing to pack for lunches at my desk next week with hunky chunks of crusty bread. Yes, Spainophiles, it is true that not all gazpacho is made from tomatoes. But my favorite definitely is. It's a recipe from old friend Fred Vultee. Haven't seen him in years, but he left me with a good recipe. That's what friends are for.
I've already got the recipe loaded on my Blackberry so I have the essential summer shopping list handy.
Fred's Really Tomatoey Gazpacho
4 to 5 large tomatoes, or about a dozen smaller Roma tomatoes, plus 1 more tomato for topping
1/2 of a large sweet onion
1 green pepper, seeded
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
A little vegetable or tomato juice if needed
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Chopped fresh basil to taste
Peel all but one large tomato. Cut out the stem end and cut in half. Squeeze out the seeds, then roughly chop the tomatoes. Place in a blender.
Chop half the onion, pepper and cucumber roughly and add to the blender. Dice the remaining onion, pepper and cucumber and set aside. Add the garlic, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and coriander to the blender. Puree until smooth. (Do this in batches if you need to, to keep the blender contents from splashing over.) Add a little vegetable or tomato juice if needed to thin it out a little.
Refrigerate until well chilled. Before serving, dice the remaining tomato and basil and mix with the diced onion, pepper and cucumber. Top soup with some of the chopped vegetables before serving.
Makes about 6 servings.