The best thing about summer is all that fresh, locally grown produce. And that there's plenty of it.
The tables at our farmers markets are piled high with tomatoes, cucumbers, all kinds of peppers, green beans, squash and so much more.
With the days already stifling, a nice, chilled gazpacho will cool you down and make good use of a lot of local produce.
Gazpacho is an uncooked, chilled soup. It is traditionally made with pureed fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers and other vegetables blended with olive oil. It is a lovely first course on especially hot days.
In addition to a bevy of vegetables, sweet, ripe fruit is also in good supply. Blueberries, peaches, nectarines and cantaloupes are plentiful now. You might even find late-season strawberries.
On my last market trip, I bought crisp, just-ripened peaches to make a fresh salad. Peaches pair well with the sweet and lightly salty taste of goat cheese. I suggest serving this salad on a chilled plate so it will keep cool.
As we look for ways to avoid melting into one big sweaty puddle, keep these recipes in mind. They will keep you and your kitchen cooler on days when the temperature is in the fever zone.
Makes 6 cups of soup. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 medium garlic clove
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1. Fill a 6-quart pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Cut an “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath to cool slightly. Pat tomatoes dry, peel them then cut them in quarters.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté bell pepper, onion and garlic until onion is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Place tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh jalapeños, plus the sautéed bell pepper, onion and garlic into a food processor.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, oregano, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
5. Turn the food processor on low to pulverize the vegetable mixture. While it is running, slowly pour the olive oil and seasoning mixture into the top of the food processor.
6. Pour gazpacho into a bowl with a tight lid. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Serve with chiffonade of basil.
Peach Goat Cheese Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 fresh peaches
4 cups fresh arugula or baby spinach leaves
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
¼ cup toasted pecans
1. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper into a jar. Cover and shake until fully blended.
2. Cut peaches into thin slices.
3. Fill four bowls with arugula or baby spinach leaves.
4. Top each bowl with peach slices, a little crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans.
5. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.