Well I’ve got bowls of fresh picked tomatoes, zucchini, and now also several new-to-my-garden varieties of hot peppers ripe and ready to harvest. And it’s still too hot to cook. Well then, I haven’t had a wonderful bowl of gazpacho since I took a trip to Tulum, Mexico many years ago. Looking at my favorite old cookbooks from my young adulthood and early vegetarian cooking years– Moosewood cookbooks by Molly Katzen, The Good Herb by Judith Hurley, The Greens Cook Book– also a quick look online, I found unappealing gazpacho recipes that rely on V-8 or tomato juice. Not for me. I wanted most of my gazpacho ingredients to be fresh from my own vegetable and herb gardens.
Lemon Drop peppers are both spicy hot and citrus tangy, super tasty
My Serrano peppers are ripening too
I used a mix of my varieties of red tomatoes, having devoured most of the tasty Sun Golds– mostly consumed in the garden as I watered
I decided to get out the blender, begin coarse chopping and dicing, creating my own recipe as I chopped. The result was delicious, every bite as wonderful as my happy memories of a meal shared in a Mexican ecological paradise. What follows is all the ingredients and an approximation of their quantities– I didn’t measure much as I worked. This made 4-6 satisfying dinner sized servings.
about 6-8 cups mixed variety of ripe red tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 medium yellow Lemon Drop pepper, including seeds, diced
4-6 leaves fresh basil, diced
about 1/8 cup olive oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
about 3/4 c water, from carafe with mint kept chilled in the fridge
2 T lime juice
1/4 t sea salt, black pepper to taste
cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Using a large cutting board and a blender, coarsely chop tomatoes and place in blender until it’s about half full, and puree til smooth with a half cup of the mint infused water. Transfer to large soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, the minced garlic, diced basil, diced hot pepper, the olive oil and rice wine vinegar. Pulse until you achieve your desired consistency: some like gazpacho silky smooth, but I like mine with some texture. Transfer to soup pot. Again fill blender with coarsely chopped tomatoes, about 2/3 of your coarsely chopped zucchini and about 1/3 of your coarsely chopped cucumbers, and the lime juice, and pulse to your desired consistency. If necessary, add either some of your previously pureed soup or a little more mint water to have enough fluid initially to allow you to achieve your desired texture. Add to soup pot. Also add to soup pot your minced red onion and celery, the reserved diced zucchini and cucumber, a little sea salt and black pepper, also more lime juice if desired. Chill for at least half a day before tasting and fine tuning the seasonings. Serve chilled with plenty of cilantro garnish.
What to do when the heat wave wears on and on, and the garden is full of big delicious ripened bounty? I’ve been steadfast about watering daily– even when I really wasn’t eager to be out in the heat anymore– and I’ve lost little to the crazy heat. I made several loaves of buckwheat zucchini bread during brief cooler cloudy day breaks, also cold dinner salads with just-picked zucchini, cucumber, mint, and the first of my ripened tomatoes and hot peppers. But I’ve got LOTS of zucchini… and now a flavorful and satisfying chilled zucchini soup recipe to enjoy.
1 medium large leek, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, coarsely chopped
6 c coarsely chopped zucchini
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium Serrano pepper, diced, with seeds
1 t caraway seeds
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 t fresh lemon thyme
5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
l lemon, juice and pulp
scant 1/2 t sea salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
several T fresh dill, chopped, for garnish
Discard thick and dark green ends of leek. Coarsely chop zucchini by slicing in half lengthwise, perhaps in quarters if large, then chop into 1/4 inch slices. Chop tender leek and saute over medium heat in 2 T butter, adding caraway seeds to toast. Add 2 T olive oil, the red potato and minced garlic, stir for 2-3 minutes until red potato just begins to brown. Add diced Serrano, a couple T water, reduce heat and cover with lid; steam until potatoes are just beginning to soften. Add grated carrot, chopped celery and zucchini, spices except dill, and a splash of white wine, continue to steam covered for about 5-8 minutes until potatoes and zucchini are pleasingly softened but not mushy. Remove from heat and allow to cool some before pureeing in half full blender. Add freshly squeezed lemon, salt and ground pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with plenty of fresh chopped dill, perhaps a dollop of plain European style yogurt. I served this on a hot night with Triscuit rye crackers and a fresh salad with walnuts, feta and fresh tomatoes.
A little like my raised vegetable beds– for a long time too wet to plant, then baked by the sun– with our weather forecast continuing to shift from hot-and-sunny back to cold-and-wet, I find myself not at my best. I’m tired, and simply not feeling robust. I want something warm and nurturing, yet also light, and bright in flavor without being spicy hot. My raised bed zucchini and yellow squash, my tomatoes and hot pepper starts are finally settling into the season and beginning to grow well; thankfully my herb garden and especially the mint is thriving! So I took my cues from them for this meal… with good protein with the lentils and quinoa, lots of vitamin C with the yellow pepper and lemon, also lots of fiber, folate and B vitamins with the lentils and greens, plus a lovely mix of flavors with earthy and sweet notes.
3/4 cup french lentils
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 large shallots, diced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup currents, soaked in white wine then drained
12 spearmint leaves, diced
3-4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, diced
fresh ground green and black pepper
Place currents in a small bowl or glass, and cover with white wine– I used a Pinot Grigio with hints of green apple that I had open already. I ended up soaking them overnight as my evening plans changed… and fortunately did not finish off the bottle that night, as the Pinot Grigio proved to be a perfect complement for this meal.
Cull through then rinse the lentils, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes. Cook until soft but not mushy, draining any remaining fluid. Let rest without lid ’til cooled. Rinse quinoa well, then cover with a generous cup of fresh water, add a dash of salt, bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 18-20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, let cool uncovered. While lentils and quinoa cook separately, saute the shallots, garlic, and zucchini in a couple tablespoons olive oil for about 3 minutes, until shallots are just barely beginning to brown and zucchini is bright. Transfer to casserole dish with lid. Next saute the yellow peppers for 2 minutes, until bright and just barely softening. Transfer to casserole dish. Mix lentils and quinoa together well, then mix in cooked veggies and diced herbs. Season with fresh ground pepper, dress with juice and pulp of lemon. This will store in air tight container in fridge for a day or two. I served this warm over mixed greens including some peppery arugula and earthy spinach, with a glass of cold Pinot Grigio.
Of course with all the zucchini in my garden I wanted to make zucchini bread! Served toasted with sunflower seed butter for a simple breakfast, or with Tomato and Serrano Pepper soup for a warming dinner– yes, I have lots of tomatoes and hot peppers in my garden too…
I wanted to make something hearty and healthy, gluten free: buckwheat is indeed gluten free (it’s not a member of the wheat family) and packs a healthy dose of protein and fiber. Here’s what I came up with– the carrot and raisins were a nod to my partner who especially likes them.
1 cup buckwheat flour
generous 1/2 cup oat flour
scant 1/2 cup regular oats
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
slim 1/4 t sea salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t coriander
1/4 t each nutmeg and cardamom
packed 2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 medium carrot, grated
2 T butter, melted
1 T coconut or canola oil
1 banana, mashed
scant 2 T honey
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. Grate zucchini into colander, squeeze out water, then set aside to allow to drain further. Grate carrot. Set aside. Measure and combine the buckwheat flour, oat flour, and cut oats, and the spices, stirring together well. Melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Mash the banana then beat together with the eggs, then mix in the melted butter and oil and honey. Alternately add the flour and spice mixture with the grated vegetables, walnuts and raisins, stirring lightly just until fully mixed.
Lightly butter a baking pan, then fill 2/3 with batter. Bake about 40 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. I sliced this thickly then wrapped the loaf in wax paper in a freezer bag. It freezes well.