One thing that concerns me greatly is our gradual loss of the memory of how fruits and vegetables are – or once were – really supposed to taste. Generations who have only bought from regular supermarkets may never have tasted a peach or an apple or a pear that has matured on the tree, been allowed to produce its natural sugars and has that perfect not-hard, not-mushy texture. This particularly applies to tomatoes, even those advertised as ‘vine-ripened,’ or some-such, because the tomato seed stock has become so attenuated. Commercial growers and mega-farms have focused on fewer and fewer varieties, often chosen for such ‘qualities’ as their productivity, their long storage life, and their suitability for mechanical cultivation and harvesting.
Luckily, there’s a strong ‘heirloom’ and natural seeds movement that maintains the great variety of tomato varieties, using seeds from a long line of naturally pollinated and grown stocks. This line reaches back many, many generations (hence the term ‘heirloom’). Heirlooms are more expensive and sometimes harder to find than perfect, shiny, Big Store produce. They’re uglier, too, at least to eyes conditioned to symmetrical shapes, uniform colors and unblemished skins. But there is nothing like the taste of a genuine heirloom tomato and for a dish like this gazpacho there can simply be no substitute for the real thing.
6 medium sized heirloom tomatoes (Assorted types, if available – I like to add a Green Zebra.)
12 cherry heirloom tomatoes (My favorite is the Snow White.)
1 celery stalk
2 peeled and seeded Persian cucumbers
1 small zucchini
½ red onion
1 yellow bell pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
What you do:
Score the medium tomatoes and blanch them. Then put them in ice water. When they’re cool, peel them carefully. You do not want any thick peel in this dish.
Quarter the cherry tomatoes and set them aside.
Chop the tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, red onion and bell pepper to roughly the same size and mix all the ingredients together. Using a food processor or blender, blend about two-thirds of the total ingredients until they’re smooth. Reserve the remaining third for texture, and add them to the smooth blend.
Add the quartered cherry heirlooms, the Bloody Mary mix, the red wine vinegar and the olive oil.
Season with Tabasco and salt (and plenty of it, tomatoes love salt) to taste.
A Delicious Variation!
Garnish the gazpacho with diced avocados, cooked shrimp and fresh corn – which makes a wonderful summer dish even more summery and you have a complete meal in a bowl.