Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hey, Baby, It's Summer! Everything Is Ripe And Full And Bursting With Flavor!

Oh No Oh My--"Summer Days" (mp3)
Seals and Crofts--"Summer Breeze" (mp3)
Tower of Foil--"The Comedy Of Summer Rain" (mp3)

I was cruising around Chicago yesterday, after a trip to the South Side to get a breaded steak sandwich at Ricobene's, I took a different exit to get out of the stalled traffic on I-90/94. That's the beauty of the GPS. You can turn wherever you want and, as long as you've got that destination programmed in, that cool, calm, and collected voice will get you back to where you need to go.

After a detour on Division, I ended up on a street I'd never heard of, driving past a place called Stanley's Fruit Market, which had a packed parking lot and people standing out front shucking corn under a sign that read "Fresh Corn, 10 for $1.00."

I knew I had to investigate. What I walked into was the most amazing place I've ever seen. Wall-to-wall produce at unbelievable prices. Tons of it. Examples: I bought a cauliflower for 83 cents. I bought 4 ears of fresh corn for 40 cents. I bought a red bell pepper for 55 cents. I bought a massive bag of those baby lettuces they make salads with in restaurants. For $2.98. The produce was ripe, and fresh, and top quality. And people were everywhere, buying it like crazy.

Oh, Harry's may have the exotic and Whole Foods may have more organics, but this was incredible stuff at prices people could afford.

What a pleasure it is to walk into of Nature's bounty in the middle of the summer. It set my mind to working: 'OK, I'm in a city not my own, I don't have all that much gear to cook with, I don't have a bunch of extra spices and niche items and I don't want to buy any, so what can I make?'

The answer was gazpacho. What says summer more than a bunch of vegetables at their peak, with tomatoes at the center, blended together and allowed to mingle for a while with lime and fresh cilantro and jalapeno to perk things up.

If you are so inclined, here's the recipe from my 50th birthday cookbook:


Gazpacho is one of the great pleasures of the summer. There’s little point in making this cool soup if you don’t have the freshest tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Mine is adapted from something Martha Stewart once made; her addition of cilantro and lime gives this version a Mexican flair. She also uses very little oil, another plus. The recipe is all prep work. Once you’ve done all of the chopping and dicing, the soup comes together practically in seconds.

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and ribbed and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
1 seedless cucumber unpeeled, but diced
3 Tbl chopped cilantro
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl red wine vinegar
2 Tbl fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Set aside 1/3 cup red pepper, 1 tsp jalapeno, 1/3 cup onion, 1/3 cup tomato, 1/3 cup cucumber, and 1 Tbl cilantro. Put remaining vegetable in food processor with oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add reserved vegetables and process briefly—leave slightly chunky. Chill gazpacho for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.


Anonymous said...

I have made your recipe before, Bob, and it's terrific. As a variation, I seeded the cuke, but it could go either way. The Seeded Cuke. Sounds like a Fantasy team name....or restaurant.

Daniel said...

I'm saving that recipe. And also... thanks you for the promotion :)

//Daniel - Tower of Foil

Bob said...

No problem. You've got a great feel to that song.

Goofytakemyhand said...

Thanks for the recipe, Bob. I will have to give this one a try for a humid evening.

If I fail, I will just rub the gazpacho all over my chest.

Any (adult/non-adult) beverages you'd recommend with the dish?

Anonymous said...

Try a bottle of Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand wine, usually around 11 bucks a bottle) or a Pinot Grigio from Oregon.

Bob said...

This is a thick gazpacho, and we eat it sometimes as a salsa with chips, in which case, a beer would go.

jed said...

hell, i'm just glad to see seals and crofts getting some props! i'll show coughlin the formula.

jed said...

also, tower of foil - nice.