Red Heaven: End-of-Summer Gazpacho
Sure you can dehydrate, can or otherwise store the foods from your garden. But the best (and most obvious) way to enjoy the fruits of your labor is to eat them now, while they’re fresh. But when you’ve got a basketful of tomatoes, a half dozen cucumbers, a whole bed of lettuce, not to mention the beets, radishes and carrots, knowing what to cook and how to eat it all up can become daunting.
Gazpacho is a Spanish cold soup that is the perfect solution to a bursting garden. It uses up a lot of fresh ingredients, it’s easy to prepare and it’s a light and cool meal for those still warm, end-of-the-summer days.
If you’re rolling your eyes or sticking out your tongue at the idea of eating gazpacho then you’ve probably had the unfortunate experience of having imitation gazpacho—that runny, flavored tomato water concoction that calls itself gazpacho but is really a lie. And a disappointment. Real gazpacho isn’t runny at all. It’s thick, almost creamy (thanks to a secret ingredient, divulged below), and it bursts with flavor. Why? Because real gazpacho doesn’t add extra liquids like water or tomato juice. The juice of the vegetables, plus a little olive oil and vinegar is all it needs.
I myself wasn’t a gazpacho girl until I spent a summer in Spain. When a Spanish friend put a bowl of gazpacho in front of me, I wrinkled up my nose and prepared to choke down the soup in the name of being a polite guest. She brought out a few little bowls filled with optional toppings: cucumber, croutons and peppers. I sprinkled them liberally over my soup, delaying the inevitable first bite. Reluctantly, I raised my spoon to my mouth and swallowed.
Madre de Dios! WHAT was in that soup and how come the other “gazpachos” I’d had in my lifetime came nowhere close to the flavor of it? Luckily for all of us she was more than happy to share her recipe. I recommend serving this with a grilled cheese sandwich and/or with a nice salad that uses up other garden bounty.
• 6 medium tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
• 1 medium cucumber
• 2 cloves of garlic
• Half of an onion
• 1 medium green bell pepper
• 1 tsp powdered cumin
• ½ Tbsp salt
• 1 cup olive oil
• 3 Tbsp vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine or apple cider—anything but white vinegar)
• Secret ingredient: 3 slices of soggy white bread
• 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 medium green pepper, diced
• 3 slices white bread, toasted and chopped into croutons
Soak the bread slices in water. Chop or dice the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, onion and bell pepper. Put into a blender or food processor. Add cumin, salt, olive oil and vinegar. Blend until smooth.
Squeeze out some of the water from the bread and add to the gazpacho in the blender. Blend until thoroughly combined. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for at least two hours. The longer the better.
Serve with toppings and enjoy!
Darla Antoine is an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band in British Columbia and grew up in Eastern Washington State. For three years, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the Midwest, reporting on issues relevant to the Native and Hispanic communities, and most recently served as a producer for Native America Calling. In 2011, she moved to Costa Rica, where she currently lives with her husband and their infant son. She lives on an organic and sustainable farm in the “cloud forest”—the highlands of Costa Rica, 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation, the conditions for farming and gardening are similar to that of the Pacific Northwest—cold and rainy for most of the year with a short growing season. Antoine has an herb garden, green house, a bee hive, cows, a goat, and two trout ponds stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.