Oh, sweet, sweet tomato. All winter long, how I long for you; how I pine for your sun-ripened sweetness and juicy flesh. Oh how I worship your delicious flavor. And now, in the mid-August heat, I kneel at your humble earthen alter. With toes stretched out in warm, golden straw and red stains streaming down my arms, I welcome you, Queen of the Vegetable Garden. Late summer afternoons—August and September— these are the halcyon days of the tomato; the cherry, the beefsteak, the roma and the heirloom. So now, at long last, let the feasting begin.
Can you imagine life without the tomato? It seems impossible that this spectacular fruit —now regarded as one of the healthiest, natural foods— was once thought to be poisonous. Rich in vitamins and minerals —as well as antioxidants, including of course, lycopene— tomatoes are one of the sweetest health foods around. This year has been a great growing year for tomatoes in the northeast. And although some areas have reported a repeat of last year’s late blight problems, most farms and home gardens in this area seem to have been spared.
Cherry Tomato ⓒ Tim Geiss @ poltergeiss.com
Cherry Tomatoes ⓒ Tim Geiss @ poltergeiss.com
Sliced Tomato ⓒ Tim Geiss at poltergeiss.com
There are many ways to enjoy fresh, juicy, ripe tomatoes. But when the heat is on and the sun is high, there’s no better way to cool off than with a bowl of chilled gazpacho. Variations on this summertime classic abound, and everyone seems to have a favorite twist to the basic tomato-onion-vinegar base.
My version? Well, I happen to be in love with yellow and orange tomatoes right now. And, I like a sweet, pureed base of sungold cherry tomatoes for my gazpacho. Of course, you can use any tomatoes you like, and tweak the ingredients as you see fit – it’s part of the fun, really. And when you’ve had your fill of this zesty summer-soup, be sure to freeze some for later. You’ll be glad you did…
Golden Days of Summer Gazpacho
Ingredients: Serves Six
2 Cups very ripe Sungold cherry tomatoes (this recipe works with red tomatoes too – use what you have)
3 Large tomatoes (I used orange and golden-yellow, heirloom type)
1 Bell pepper (red, green or somewhere between) minced
1 Average cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped fine
1 Spanish onion, peeled and very finely minced
2 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (but not too fine or it will overpower the other flavors)
2 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbs. fresh, finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbs. excellent-quality, artisan, white wine vinegar
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Lime, juiced
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp. honey (or more, to taste)
Dash Sriracha or Tobasco sauce
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sungold and Sweet Cherry 100 Tomatoes, Cucumber and Bell Pepper
Combine 2 large tomatoes and 2 cups of cherry tomatoes in a blender and blend. Remove and strain the tomato juice through a chinois or fine mesh sieve. Set aside. Seed and coarsely chop the remaining tomato,; peel, seed and chop the cucumber and pepper. Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and chop the garlic, taking care not to chop too fine (or it will overpower the flavor of the gazpacho). Chop the parsley and the cilantro. Toss all of the vegetables into the tomato puree. At this point, if you prefer a smooth gazpacho, you may puree all the ingredients in a blender. Everyone has their own texture preferences. I like to see and taste whole bits of cucumber and tomato in my gazpacho.
Squeeze one lemon and one lime and strain the juice through a sieve into the vegetable mixture. Stir and slowly add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Add a dash of Sriracha chili sauce or Tobasco, and sprinkle in Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper. Taste as you go, adding more seasonings to balance flavors. Tomato acidity and sweetness varies tremendously. If the soup seems a bit sharp, try adding another tsp of honey to sweeten the flavor. If too sweet, skip the honey and add a bit more vinegar.
Chill, covered, for 2 hours. Taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Serve well chilled with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, a garnish of fresh cilantro leaves and a piece of crusty bread.
Special thanks to Tim Geiss for his beautiful tomato photos – See more of Tim’s work at poltergeiss.com
Article and all other photographs ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE
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