There's only one thing to do when temperatures rise and Early Girl tomatoes appear at the farmers' market: make gazpacho. This revelation came to me like a lightening bolt at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturday when I sampled the Dirty Girl Produce's Early Girl tomatoes. Another influence on the revelation was the prior evening's viewing of Miles Ahead, an Oscar-worthy performance and directorial debut of Don Cheadle about Miles Davis' dormant years following some of his best works.
So this morning I played the Sketches of Spain album and pulled out The Spanish Table cookbook to plan for the perfect hot summer meal. The Sketches of Spain album blends together classic Spanish and world music with Davis' sultry jazz. Just as that album connected those independent musical styles to create an entirely unique sound, gazpacho blends some of the best summer ingredients to create a delicious and healthy dish.
Every summer, I eagerly anticipate the debut of Early Girl tomatoes. They are a special little tomato, in part because they are dry farmed -- a process by which the seedlings are watered only during planting. Without watering during the growing season, the tomato plant starves and thus becomes highly efficient: dropping some of its leaves, growing deep roots to seek out ground water, and putting all of its might into producing the fruit. The result is a super sweet, high acidity, tiny tomato with a thick skin. These dry farmed Early Girls are like a tortured artist who overcomes adversity and suffering to create a brilliant work, much like Miles Davis.
The summer growing season also produces other key ingredients in the classic gazpacho: cucumbers and peppers. I selected both from Lucero Organic Farms, since they claimed theirs to be the very best cucumber in the world and their peppers were beautiful too.
The Spanish Table Classic Red Gazpacho is the recipe I followed to create this beautiful dish. It's as simple as blending together a purée of garlic, sweet onion, red and green bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, olive oil, stale bread, and salt.
A similar recipe of Jose Andres (minus the bread) was published in the Washington Post here. Food & Wine magazine also published a great piece on the many variations of gazpacho - even using watermelon or grapes. See here.
The beauty of any gazpacho recipe is that it requires no cooking - just chopping and blending. That's what makes it the perfect meal for a hot summer day. So celebrate this heat wave by making some gazpacho. Then as it chills before serving, raise a glass of wine to toast the tortured soul and robust flavor of the dry farmed Early Girl tomato.