Seed to Table Gazpacho

Enjoy the bounty of summer produce with one of these variations on gazpacho.

Summer brings the long-anticipated fruits of farmers’ hard labor. Seeds were sown months ago; seedlings reached for the sun and took root in the earth. Rows of crops were weeded, watered and mulched; some were trellised and some were covered in straw to suppress weeds. The rains fell softly upon the fields, and the sun’s energy worked its magic. The first tomatoes arrive in July. Summer squash, cucumbers and peppers are plentiful now, too. And garlic, which was planted last fall, is also harvested this month. Garlic scapes, the plant’s curling stalks, are at peak flavor just before summer harvest.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the bounty of all this summer produce is in gazpacho, a refreshing chilled soup that makes good use of excess tomatoes and is easily tweaked with herbs and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. Tangy, fresh gazpacho has evolved from traditional recipes, which call for little more than tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, cucumbers, onions, garlic and herbs to more complex flavor combinations – think spicy peppers, grapes, watermelon or cantaloupe. A few of my favorite variations include watermelon-jalapeño and cucumber-mint.

Crystal Stevens is a farmer at La Vista CSA Farm on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in Godfrey, Illinois, where she farms with her husband, Eric. They have two children. Crystal is an advocate of integrating creativity into sustainability through writing, art, photojournalism and seed-to-table cooking. Find more of her work at growingcreatinginspiring.blogspot.com, which she created to launch her forthcoming book, Grow Create Inspire.

Garlic Scape and Tomato

Serves | 8 |

  • 8 large tomatoes
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 1 summer squash, roughly chopped
  • 1 cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 3 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut tomatoes in half, place in a bowl and toss in 1 Tbsp oil. Transfer to baking dish and roast in oven for 20 minutes. In a food processor, pulse tomatoes, remaining oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and lemon juice until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Refrigerate 1 hour. Serve chilled.

Jalapeño-Watermelon

Serves | 6 |

  • 6 cups watermelon, cubed, divided
  • 6 large tomatoes, chopped, divided
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, minced
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp minced fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp honey

| Preparation | In a food processor, combine 3 cups watermelon, half of tomatoes, oil, vinegar, salt and lime juice. Pulse until slightly blended. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Refrigerate 1 hour. Serve chilled.

Cucumber-Mint

Serves | 6 |

  • 6 large tomatoes
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 4 cucumbers, cut into small pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into small pieces
  • 1 summer squash, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced

| Preparation | In a food processor, blend first 6 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour. Serve chilled.