July 8-14, 2007: Gazpacho Nights

This week the temperature has gotten up to 95º several days in a row. The question of the day is - how to eat all the fantastic foods that are becoming available while avoiding heating the kitchen up.  This week at the Farmer's Market I saw the first basil, first tomatoes, the first Michigan corn, the first peaches, and blueberries.  The corn was a bit puzzling to me since in my mind corn doesn't come until August. According to my Grampa, it's supposed to be "knee high by the Fourth of July." When I asked the young man from Fusilier Farm why it was here so early, he said that they do a very labor intensive process of planting the seeds in a greenhouse while it's still too cold to plant outside. They then transplant each tiny corn plant in the fields when it does finally warm up. Doing this, they can get corn early for those corn freaks who wait the whole year for an ear. 

Since it's been so hot, it's Gazpacho time at our house. This recipe is one of the easiest and one of the tastiest. And, because you can also make it with (sharp intake of breath) canned tomatoes, you can have a yummy version of it even when the tomatoes are not in season.  With a loaf of bread and some cheese (Michigan cheese of course), this makes a lovely meal on a hot evening. Put an ice cube in the bowl and you've got something special.

Gazpacho (from Epicurious.com)

2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
6 medium tomatoes, seeded (or one large can!)
1 green bell pepper, seeded
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded
2 cups cold water
1/4 cup vinegar (we use about 2 T. only, champagne vinegar)
4 tablespoons olive oil (also about 2T. at our house)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3 1/2 cups 3/4-inch cubes day-old French or Italian bread

Mash garlic and salt in mortar with pestle until paste forms. Transfer to large bowl. Finely chop tomatoes, bell pepper and cucumber and add to bowl. Add 2 cups cold water, vinegar and 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in chopped cilantro. Season with pepper. Cover soup and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread; sauté until golden, about 12 minutes. Season croutons with salt, herbs too if you like. Cool. Serve soup with croutons and an ice cube. 

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