Gazpacho has been on my mind lately. As I’ve waited for my tomatoes to ripen, I’ve been perusing recipes and mentally rejiggering them to suit my own requirements. I wanted to reproduce the gazpacho I had in Spain last summer at a back-alley outdoor café in the shadow of the Alcazar, with the sun shining just beyond the sharp shadows of the table umbrellas, a Toledo alley cat winding around my ankles, the clatter from inside the kitchen, the smell of baking breading and cigarette smoke, and a first sip that was so cold and refreshing I could feel it all the way down to my hot, dusty toes…in short, I wanted to do the impossible.
Never have I seen such a terrible summer for tomato lovers. I’ve harvested a few cherry tomatoes, but the rest of my crop remains steadfastly green. If they could move indoors with me, out of the damp chill, I’m sure they would.
At the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, I perused zillions of beautiful organic tomatoes, grown in sunnier parts of the state. They were gorgeous, and no doubt worth the four or five dollars a pound they were going for. But then! Then I happened upon a corner in which rested box upon box of the unlovelies. I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for bargain rate cosmetically challenged tomatoes all summer with no luck. At last, at last…here they were. Organic tomatoes, $2.00 per pound. A crowd jostled around the crates, one person even squatting over a box of tomatoes like a territorial lioness protecting her kill from hyenas. A little overripe, or misshapen or cracked, all different sizes and colors, they really were beautiful in their own way.
This gazpacho may not be exactly the same, but it’s darned close to the one I had in Spain. Cold, crisp, bright with vinegar and tangy with fresh vegetables, it is a taste of summer. If you should be so fortunate as to have ripe tomatoes in your garden, you are already half way there. Serve in mugs for an easy walk-around first course, or in bowls garnished with chopped hard-boiled egg and a hunk of crusty bread on the side.
- 4 cups seeded, diced tomatoes tomatoes
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- ¼ cup finely diced red onion
- 1 3-inch long piece of baguette, crust discarded
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ cup olive oil
Soak bread in water for 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.
Combine bread, garlic, vinegar, salt, sugar, cumin, peppers, and cucumber, and half of tomatoes. Blend until smooth. Add remaining tomatoes and olive oil, blend until tomatoes are finely chopped.
Transfer to a glass container and chill until cold, approx. 3 hours. Season with additional salt and vinegar as needed before serving.