Summer's heat drives us; and our cooking. Here in the deep south we have to adjust our habits to the intense environment we live in. With the outdoor temps hitting the hundreds, turning on the stove is just not an option so we kick into fresh mode. Taking a hard look at the fridge the answer is clear: gazpacho!
Cold and crisp- ever so versatile- gazpacho is a gardener's best friend. For me, this recipe falls into place and ever changes with garden availability- lending well to our style of flexible recipe cooking. Let's share:
For every 5 tomatoes:
2 small cucumbers
1 small onion
1 stalk of celery
2 cloves of garlic
a hearty drizzle of olive oil
and a splash of cider vinegar
Using the base recipe, chop all the produce; toss gently giving a hearty drizzle of oil and a generous splash of vinegar using salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate and enjoy. You can eat it immediately, but it gets better after a few hours. This recipe freezes well (I use portion-size containers); just thaw in the fridge.
Now for some fun...let's talk availability flexibility. Tomatoes: use red or yellow, purple or stripped- a mix is even better. When cherry tomatoes are abundant, we simply use one cupped handful of cherry tomatoes as one tomato (therefore, five handfuls of cherry tomatoes--I cut them up).
Cucumbers: If cukes are not in the fridge, use a summer squash or zucchini instead. With similar textures, the results are delicious.
Other neat add-ins: Celery doesn't grow well on my property, so I don't often use it. Instead, we may have a bell pepper, a banana pepper, or a chili. Only one does the trick and gives a different element to the flavors. Sometimes sprouts are plentiful in the kitchen..they make a snappy addition right before serving. Then there are herbs; go wild! Any herb adds flavor and nutrients to this tasty cold dish. Marjoram, rosemary, thyme- basils, mints or tarragon...so many possibilities!
With delicious gazpacho working its magic in the fridge, I think lunch will be set. For me, a hearty sprinkle of Parmesan finishes the dish perfectly!