An array of freshly harvested tomatoes were on full display this past week, with over three dozen types of heirlooms, cherries, and hybrids making an appearance. They vary greatly in shape, size, color, flavor and texture, and I found myself bringing home far more of an assortment than intended.
I just couldn’t resist. I enjoyed the super sweet sungold cherry tomatoes right out of the basket, most of which were consumed on my car ride home from the Saturday downtown farmers’ market. Also in my collection included some stunning Red Tiger Stripe heirlooms, pink hued Momotaro, Black Krim, pineapple, big beef and Cherokee purple tomatoes. Now I just needed to decide how I would incorporate each into my meals throughout the week.
I add tomatoes to salads on, pretty much, a daily basis, and use them to produce fresh salsas and pasta sauces weekly. Another quick and healthy dish I often prepare this time of year when the summer tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers arrive is gazpacho. Incredibly refreshing and delicious, this simple preparation is ideal to enjoy on a warm summer afternoon or evening.
When preparing this chilled soup, I most often blend all of my ingredients together until smooth, serving with a nice piece of charred bread. This week, however, I did a very rustic preparation by doing a hand-chopped version, leaving the blender in the cupboard.
The texture of the dish was quite enjoyable to eat right out of the bowl. Infused with fresh basil leaves, a single clove of garlic, Italian peppers, and refreshing cucumbers, I selected the flavorful and slightly smoky Cherokee purple heirloom tomatoes to tie in all together.
Rustic Hand-Chopped Gazpacho
2 large Cherokee purple tomatoes (or any variety you prefer), scarred portion below stem discarded.
1 Persian cucumber, ends trimmed and discarded.
1 Italian pepper (or bell), seeds, stem and membrane discarded.
6 large Italian basil leaves, very finely chopped.
1 clove garlic, well minced.
1 teaspoon of high-quality balsamic vinegar.
1 teaspoon good quality olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
On a large cutting board, finely dice the tomato, pepper and cucumber separately, then pile together. Add basil leaves and garlic, then chop everything together. Place contents in a mixing bowl and add vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together until well incorporated. Add more vinegar, olive oil and seasoning, if desired.
Yield: Serves 2.