Friday, September 4, 2009

Playdate Special: Golden Gazpacho

CPE_Golden Gazpacho

It's been a weird summer in terms of weather, with a cold start and a steamy hot finish. The cherry tomatoes began appearing in July. Most of them have disappeared directly from vine to mouth -- my boys find them wonderfully sweet and tasty and pick them greedily. I rarely need to pick any myself, but I do need to hunt to find any left. Finn grabs empty strawberry baskets and heads out "to get my 'matoes," then leaves little half-filled baskets all over the yard.

My handful of heirloom tomato plants, however, have been slow to yield ripe fruit. It wasn't until late August that I was able to count on a few tomatoes each week. The most generous plant has been the giant persimmon tomato, yielding gorgeous orange fruits that can clock in at nearly a pound each.

Temperatures had been in the 90s for a full week. Between that and the late bounty of tomatoes, there was no question I'd be making gazpacho this week. I prepared it the night before, and by morning it was tasty but a little flat. Anna has saved several of my dishes in the past: I asked her to taste, and she recommended sun-dried tomatoes. Perfect.

To go with the gazpacho, I split a loaf of Pugliese bread in half and spread it with goat cheese, then spread some fresh basil pesto, and finally topped it with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. I popped that into the oven to toast a bit.

I tried making baked spinach balls in a desperate attempt to get my kids to eat something green. I added a bit of chopped lemon balm to make them more interesting to me, at least -- but they were left mostly uneaten. Couldn't get the kids to even try one. I ended up making some tortellini for the kids, dressed with a bit of the pesto, and they wolfed it down.

The kids didn't think much of dessert either -- balls of honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon with a bit of lime juice, honey, and mint. Must have been the flecks of green.

Golden Gazpacho

Gazpacho is very forgiving of experimentation. Play around with this one. You can puree it in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Some insist on straining with fine-mesh sieve, but I don't bother.

4 ounces white bread, crusts removed
two large orange tomatoes
1 San Marzano tomato (optional)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes, divided
1 yellow or orange bell pepper
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 small red onion
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Tear or cut bread into 1-inch chunks and place in small bowl. Add water to cover, then drain and squeeze water out of bread. (If using stale bread, let it soak in the water for a few minutes.) Add bread to work bowl of food processor.

Coarsely chop fresh tomatoes, 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion, and garlic. Add to food processor along with vinegar and olive oil, and process until smooth -- a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate at least an hour, or overnight. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning as needed.

To serve, chop remaining tablespoon of sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle on top of each bowl of gazpacho.

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