(This is the second installment of my series on summer vegetables)
At The Tomato Vine on Buncombe Road in Greenville, like many other places this time of year, fresh tomatoes and other locally grown vegetables are coming in the door apace. Along with the standard market varieties, of tomatoes, The Tomato Vine also offers a few of the ever more popular heirloom varieties.
For many of us who are fortunate enough to have a garden in July in South Carolina, we feel somewhat like we are reliving an episode of the original Star Trek, as tomatoes seem to multiply like Tribbles in front of our very eyes. Cucumbers usually are not far behind.
Who of us hasn’t walked into out garden to find a couple of bloated yellowing Marketmores which we have purposely ignored because we’ve already got a crisper full? Who of us hasn’t had our neighbors shut their blinds and pretend they aren’t home when we show up with yet another sack full of Better Boys?
Here are a couple of refreshing recipes to help you deplete your surfeit of ‘maters and cukes and a few of the other veggies that are abundant this time of year.
Gazpacho is an uplifting cold tomato soup (what I like to call a “liquid salad”) with lots of fresh ingredients. Gazpacho’s zip comes from the juxtaposition of cold soup and spicy heat. It is great for an addition to a backyard barbecue or picnic in the mountains. It can be made up to three days ahead, or frozen, and thawed overnight in the fridge for an easy meal. Gazpacho is a very old recipe that originated in the Andalusia region of Spain, Next door, the Portuguese also have their own variety.
Salsas are another good way to dispose of a glut of summer vegetables. This salsa recipe also freezes well, so you can make a big batch and store it beside the gazpacho in the freezer for a little taste of summer during the cold winter months. Don’t be surprised if you are reminded of warm sunny days when a legion of those fresh red orbs was hanging only a few steps outside your back door. That is one reason these two recipes are staples in my house.
6 Medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, Chopped
5 cups fresh vegetable juice, or 40 oz. canned
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
½ tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 cup red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. Olive oil
Combine all ingredients and toss together until vegetables are evenly distributed. Refrigerate for two hours and serve. Alternately, pour into three 1qt. freezer containers, seal, label well, and freeze.
Garnish with croutons, tortilla chips or chopped dill, cucumber and tomato.
Some people prefer to puree the ingredients prior to serving.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-1/2 stalk celery, minced
2 Tbsp. Serrano peppers peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic
4 medium tomatoes seeded and quartered
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. chopped fresh basil, or one teaspoon dried
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. chili powder
Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Add the onions, celery and peppers. Sauté about five minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and heat for three minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from stove to cool. Fish out the tomato skins. Cover and chill overnight. If freezing, ladle chilled mixture into two 1-qt. freezer containers, seal and freeze.
Adapted fromThe Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, by Carol W. Costenbader, Storey Books, Pownel, VT, 1997