August 08, 2010

Taste of Summer: Tomato Gazpacho with Avocado-Lime Salsa

My little cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. Every morning, on my way to work, I check the plants, hoping that a small yellow or red/green globe is ripe for the picking. My beauties are all heirloom varieties from Vicki's Veggies, who hosts an annual tomato seedling sale in the spring. With very little sun in my yard but very high hopes, I bought some plants.

Vicki's Veggies, in beautiful Prince Edward County

Vicki's amazing greenhouse full of 'lil baby tomato plants

My lone Anna...usually prolific, but not in my garden

The first to appear was an Anna Russian. It was almost too beautiful to eat, shading from pink to red to green. Sadly my little Anna Russian gave its all to that one tomato, and promptly produced no more. But, boy, was it delicious.

The others though, seem to have adapted to their cramped containers. Negro Azteca and Yellow Pear are full of fruit and flowers, while Dr. Carolyn takes a more leisurely stroll towards ripeness.  All that garden activity made me hungry for a fresh tomato gazpacho.  Bosco Farms at Liberty Village’s My Market spoils me for choice. With a precious string-bag full of heirlooms, the soup’s but a blender blitz away.

Farm Fresh Tomato Gazpatcho with Avocado-Lime Salsa
serves 6

8-10 heirloom tomatoes*
1 medium English (seedless) cucumber, peeled
3-4 red scallions, a mix of red, white and green parts (or one very small red onion)
1 large red bell pepper
½ c chopped cilantro
12-15 fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
½ tsp coarse black pepper, or more to taste

* Use like-coloured tomatoes to avoid a "muddy" looking end result

Take advantage of the market's summer bounty

1.  Roughly chop all of the ingredients.  Puree in blender in batches (unless you have a supersized blender).  I like a smooth consistency but you can leave it a bit more chunky, if you desire.

2. If blending in batches, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the salt, pepper and the vinegars.  Adjust for seasoning, top with a dollop of Avocado-Lime Salsa (recipe follows) and serve.

Can be made ahead - in fact, this soup benefits from being well chilled, especially during the dog days of summer.

Avocado-Lime Salsa
makes approx 2 cups

This lime-infused salsa is the perfect dollop with the gazpacho. I shamelessly ate the leftovers right from the dish, no tortilla chips required.

2 large ripe avocados
3 tbsp lime juice
1 small shallot, finely minced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ jalepeno pepper, seeds and pith removed, finely minced
½ tsp salt, or to taste
½ tsp pepper, or to taste

1.  Pit and dice avocado.  I like larger chunks for this salsa.  Put in a small bowl and combine with the lime juice.

NB.  If you are handy with a knife, you can try a neat trick I learned recently to remove that pesky pit.  Cut the avocado in two lengthwise, and - carefully - holding one half in your hand, take a sharp knife and strike the avocado pit hard enogh so that the knife adheres to the pit.  A little wiggle, and the pit is removed.  I then dice the avocado with the skin still on, and scoop it out with a spoon.

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients, stir gently and adjust for seasoning.