Tomatoes make me happy. And not the mealy winter tomato flown in from who knows where. I’m referring to the late summer farm market tomato. We buy them every week while we can and enjoy them until they are no more. They are one of the few things I miss about summer.
Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup from the southern region of Andalusia. I was first introduced to it by a friend’s mother back in Texas. Cold soupy vegetables? No thanks. Now I can’t get enough of this liquid vegetable deliciousness. The best gazpacho I ever had was in Seville, on a hot early summer afternoon, in a bar, with a cold beer. It came to the table with a big fat ice cube in the middle of it.
I have been making this summer delight for so long and have experimented with many versions. Sometimes I add bread, often times I omit oil, maybe add a bit of garlic. I have made it with tomatillos. I once made a version with peaches and tomatoes. I have used watermelon and no tomatoes. Some of the time I purée it all the way. Occasionally I leave it chunky. Every now and then I purée it and reserve a few vegetable chunks to add in at the last minute. And on and on.
But my favorite recipe is a simple one – tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and onions and I have included it here. It is not exact in any way so feel free to add and subtract as I have done over the years. Enjoy and hurry before all the (good) tomatoes are gone.
3 large ripe fresh summer tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1/2 large red bell pepper
1/2 medium red onion
a few dashes Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, or not
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
Coarsely chop vegetables. Add to blender with remaining ingredients in batches, if necessary, and pulse, chop or purée. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving to allow flavors to meld. Serve cold.