This is an interesting time of year for cooks. We have the High Holidays, the busyness of back to school and ramping up work after the summer, and the weather is unpredictable. It’s hot! It’s rainy! It’s cool!
Markets are still holding on to many summer crops, but perhaps they are not as picture perfect as they were in the height of summer. Some toasty evenings beg for light, simple summery fare, and that’s what we have on the menu today. Late tomatoes remain in season until mid-October, ditto basil, and this Italian twist on gazpacho is a great way to use them. Like many of my kitchen creations, I developed this recipe through a bit of an accident.
Last week, I was hosting some friends for a late summer dinner of chicken bruschetta and I was prepping the sauce while doing several other tasks. I popped the ingredients in the blender, turned it on and started prepping the chicken.
I left the tomato mixture pureeing for too long — normally the goal is a chunky texture that mimics traditional bruschetta topping. When I returned to the blender, the puree was silken smooth. Oops … or so I thought. It ended up delivering a better result for the chicken dish; the puree incorporated all of the desired flavors more effectively and each bite was a delicious symphony of summer. Henceforth, I shall strive for this texture.
I ended up having a bunch of extra sauce, and served it the following day for lunch as gazpacho.
- 2 large tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
- ¼ of a small onion, cut in chunks
- 1 clove garlic
- 20 basil leaves, rinsed
- A scant teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
- A generous tablespoon good-quality olive oil
- A pinch or two of salt
- A generous grinding of pepper
Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Chill, if desired, and serve.