When we think of Summer fruits, one usually thinks of watermelon, juicy berries, mangos and other tropical delights. But really, which fruit is more quintessentially Summer than a ripe, red, tomato.
If you’ve ever had a little patch of green (or even a little pot) and have grown tomatoes, you’ll know that when they decide its time to bear fruit, there’s just no end to it. This seemingly abundant wave of red fruits fires up a preserving and canning frenzy in some parts as we scramble to keep the sweet-savoury fruit for the cooler months.
But really, there are few things more delicious than a crimson, warm from the sun, bending the vine with its weight, amazingly succulent tomato. Maybe it seems like I’m going a little overboard about tomatoes but go and ask any granny in Italy or Spain and she’ll tell you the same thing. So what to do with the fruit if you don’t feel like canning or preserving or standing in front of a stove on a hot day making tomato sauce?
You could make a caprese with perfectly grassy olive oil and some basil. OR! You could throw a bunch of gorgeous things in a blender and impress the heck out of everyone with your perfect gazpacho.
Admittedly, both Tamzyn and I thought we didn’t like gazpacho until a recent trip to Boschendal Wine Farm in the Cape Winelands. Our little Summer afternoon jaunt to see their vegetable farm (and cute ducks) turned into a lunch under old oak trees. Sweating in the shade in a very South African Summer type of way and feeding the very presumptuous hens sips of our cold water as they panted beside our table. The gazpacho at Boschendal made such an impression on us that we got to work the next weekend on tweaking our own recipe. It’s tricky because cold dulls flavours – so something which might taste overwhelmingly of garlic one moment will taste very different after an hour in the fridge, and even more different if left overnight. I would always leave a gazpacho in the fridge overnight actually. The flavour seems to settle into itself and develop even more nuances.
Keeping this cold question in mind, you can easily tweak your blended concoction to your own tastes. We didn’t include the traditional day-old-bread in the soup itself to keep it gluten-free. We also found it further muted the flavours and honestly, I don’t have the patience to sieve out lumps of bread when it’s over 30 degrees Celsius. We did add vegan onion rings after the fact, though. Because carbs are nice. With all simple recipes, the quality of your ingredients really shine. So go to your favourite farmers market and choose from the incredible heirloom tomatoes on offer. Once you’ve tasted a ripe heirloom, you’ll be completely confused by the round red things they pass off as tomatoes in a store.
Choose tomatoes which are almost too ripe. Red, plump and juicy. The same with your red pepper. Smell them. If they smell delicious, they probably are and they pass the test for this gazpacho. I’m actually just an advocate for smelling everything because it’s such an integral part of taste. We eat with all our senses. Start eating when you choose your produce, not only when it’s on your plate. Recipe
- 1kg Ripe Plum Tomatoes
- 1 Yellow Onion, cut into chunks
- 200g Cucumber (1 small cucumber), roughly chopped
- 1 Medium Pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Basil Leaves
- 1 Garlic Clove, peeled
- 2tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1tsp Salt
- 1/2 Lemon, juiced
- Crispy Onions
- Core your tomatoes by placing the juicy seedy bits in a small bowl (you’ll use these as garnish), and the tomato flesh in a larger bowl, chop these bits into chunks.
- Add half of the chopped tomatoes to a blender along with all the onions and red pepper. Cut a quarter of the cucumber off, finely chop this piece and place in another bowl to use as the garnish for later, add the rest to the blender with the tomatoes, red pepper and onions.*
- Add the remainder of the ingredients (garlic, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt) and blend until fully combined and scraping down the sides as needed. Keep blending until the mixture is completely smooth, this can take between 2-4min depending on your blender.
- Place the smooth tomato gazpacho in the refrigerator for 2 hours – 24hours, taste test after refrigeration as the flavour of the gazpacho will change slightly, and you might find you want to add some black pepper or more lemon.
- Serve the gazpacho in small bowls, top with your tomato seeds, crispy onions and fresh basil.
- Enjoy cold!
- If you have the time, freeze a few cubes of your gazpacho and pop them into the bowl when serving. It’ll ensure your soup stays perfectly cold.
- If you prefer a smooth gazpacho, like we do, just blend the whole lot and skip the dividing step.