While it may not seem possible to have too many tomatoes, there are times (like now) when you might be facing a pile of very ripe tomatoes that would be a shame to waste. The Accidental Locavore ended up with five pounds from the CSA this week and knew there were a few more than I could (or should) comfortably use for salads. This being August, recipes for gazpacho are a dime a dozen, from Mark Bittman’s spread for the Times to an interesting one from Food & Wine that my friend Mary adapted for her blog. But gazpacho, like its summer cousin, pesto, really doesn’t need a recipe. It does need a blender or food processor and some great tomatoes (although there’s a hack for that too – see below). This is what I tossed together this morning:
- 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into big chunks
- 1 garlic clove (size depending on your love for garlic)
- 2 slices of bread
- ½ cucumber peeled and cut into chunks
- ½ jalapeno, seeded
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt & pepper
Put the tomatoes, garlic, cucumber and jalapeno in the food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the bread, olive oil and vinegar. Process until it’s just shy of your desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Process to your desired consistency and chill for at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and top with your favorite garnishes, serve and enjoy!
My verdict: I always loved the gazpacho at City Bakery, mostly because you could mix in a whole host of garnishes: cilantro, croutons, chopped tomatillos, etc. It also allowed you to control the consistency, making it as smooth (fewer garnishes) or as chunky as you like. When you make it yourself, you can do that with or without the toppings. If you use a blender, you will get a finer blend; with the food processor it will always have a little more texture. I’m not a fan of green peppers, so I leave them out and really only added the jalapeno because it was left over from a batch of salsa (that may garnish the soup). Other great garnishes or add-ins could be avocado, bacon, some toasted pine nuts.
The hack for not-so-good tomatoes, I learned from Carla Hall. If you have pallid tomatoes, use more of whatever you have that’s tastier. So, if you have some good peppers or a nice cucumber, add more of them and just adjust the taste to suit yourself.
The Accidental Locavore saw this recipe on Food 52 recently and happened to have a nice bunch of broccoli on hand so this became lunch. You need a little over an hour to make this but most of it is for cooking the broccoli. Serves 4 to 6
- 2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cups grated Parmesan
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Croutons (optional) for garnishing
In a covered microwave-safe dish, steam the broccoli in the microwave for 3 minutes.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic. After a minute or two, when the garlic starts to soften and turn golden, add the broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is soft enough that it yields when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon (it may brown a little during this process — this is a good thing).
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes.
Carefully puree half the soup in a blender or food processor. Stir the puree back into the pot. Stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Delicious! Everyone really liked this soup. It was a nice change from the usual thick, gloppy broccoli and cheese soup. Fresh and light tasting. My only regret with it was that I didn’t have much broccoli (and we were in the middle of yet another blizzard) so only made half the recipe, which was gone in a heartbeat. Maybe because I wasn’t cooking so much broccoli, mine was nice and soft in 30 minutes. If you want a vegetarian version, just use vegetable broth in place of the chicken stock. This would probably work with zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli rabe, etc. I did pop a few croutons in which gave it a nice crunch. Toasted pine nuts would also be a nice garnish. I’ve already gone out and gotten more broccoli to make another batch!
Looking for a warm and comforting bowl of soup for a cold day? After all this snow, the Accidental Locavore definitely was! Here’s a recipe for a great creamy corn chowder put together in less than 45 minutes, with corn I froze from the overload this summer and my own bacon. Serves 4.
- 4 strips bacon cut into 1/2″ lardons (strips)
- 2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn if you have fresh)
- 2 tablespoons butter (could be less if your bacon renders a lot of fat)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups milk
- 2-3 medium new potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small jalapeno pepper (optional), seeded and finely diced
Heat the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crisp. Reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish, leaving the rest of it (and the rendered fat) in the pot. Add the butter, thyme, garlic, onions, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat, until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the corn, milk (jalapenos, if using) and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf. Partially puree the chowder either with an immersion (stick) blender, or by taking about a cup of the chowder and pureeing it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add it back to the rest of the soup, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the bacon garnish, and enjoy.
My verdict: Since I decided at the last minute that this was what I needed for lunch, both the corn and jalapeno were frozen. Instead of dicing the jalapeno, I just dumped it in whole and removed it before pureeing the soup. It wasn’t spicy enough for my taste, so the whole thing went in the blender (and now it’s probably a little too spicy). I’ve made a vegetarian version of this, substituting a small chipotle in adobo and some of it’s sauce for the bacon (leave out the jalapeno unless you like it super-hot). If you’re clever enough to save corn cobs, cut them in half and toss them in, it adds flavor to the stock. I also added a piece of smoked pork rind that I had from making the bacon just to add some more flavor (and removed it before pureeing).
As you know the Accidental Locavore is a fan of celery root and it was widely available this fall at my CSA. I found this recipe for Creamy Celery Root Soup on the Food Republic website and wanted to give it a shot. I stayed pretty true to their recipe, which makes a big pot of soup.
- 2 large celery roots, peeled and cut into ½”cubes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 2 large cloves, garlic, chopped
- 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 375°. Toss celery root with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl until coated, then arrange in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until completely soft, golden-brown and caramelized (this can be done ahead of time).
Heat the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat, then sauté the onions and garlic until translucent and just starting to color, 8-10 minutes. Add the roasted celery root, stir well to combine and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the stock and wine to the pot, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, then transfer to a blender and purée in batches (or use an immersion blender). Return soup to pot over low heat and stir in cream. Heat until soup is warmed through. Serve garnished with the toasted pine nuts and enjoy.
My verdict: Although not difficult, this seemed like a lot of work. Maybe it was just that I wasn’t thrilled with the results and found myself alone in the kitchen with a pile of large pans to wash. I ended up simmering it for about another 10-15 minutes to reduce it a little further as mine was rather thin. Still looking for more flavor I added a little cumin (maybe ½ teaspoon) to it at the end and tossed some croutons in my bowl. What’s good about this recipe is that it could be adopted for any roasted vegetable and, as I did, you can easily roast the veggies ahead of time. The next time I make this (or some version thereof), I would definitely add some garlic to the roasting pan and puree it in with the soup. Since I have an immersion blender, I skipped the cooling step and just pureed it in the soup pot (definitely not recommended if you’re using a non-stick pot). The roasted celery root, on it’s own, was really good, so remember that for a side dish!