Irresistible Gazpacho


Vegetables.

They’re so purty.

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And yet it’s so tricky getting enough of them into our diet.

Thankfully, there’s gazpacho:

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Have you ever eaten a really delicious salsa and thought, “Man! This salsa is so good I could drink it!”?

I think the person who invented gazpacho felt the same because this summery soup is essentially a bunch of fresh vegetables finely chopped and mixed together.

On a personal note…

While photographing this dish, I couldn’t stop nibbling and nibbling and nibbling on it!

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Before I knew it, the bowl was empty!

Maybe getting enough veggies into our diets isn’t so hard after all….

Irresistible Gazpacho

(This recipe was adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s version.)

Let’s start off by chopping up some fresh veggies:

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*3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

*1 large stalk of celery, diced

*1 big handful parsley, rinsed

*1 medium red onion, chopped

*1 large red bell pepper, diced

*1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced (this type of cucumber has a soft, ribbed surface and is usually shrink-wrapped)

*4 medium tomatoes, diced (any tomato will do–just pick ones that actually smell like tomatoes instead of plastic)   🙂

Once chopped, process all the veggies EXCEPT the garlic in small batches in a food processor.  Transfer to a large bowl.

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Grab a 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes (I prefer San Marzanos) and puree them in the food processor:

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Stir the processed veggies and tomatoes and the garlic together.

Pour in 1/4 cup vinegar.  (I used an even mixture of red wine and white vinegars.)

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Add 1/4 cup olive oil.

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Stir in 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt.

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And a teaspoon of pepper.

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Give the soup a good mix and store in a non-reactive container such as a glass or ceramic bowl.

Since the soup gets better the longer it sits, enjoy it all week with your lunchtime sandwich or as a snack.

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But you are also more than welcome to serve yourself up a bowl right away.

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Oops!!  Did I really just finish off another bowl?

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Happy vegging!

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Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes


Green tomatoes.

They have one of two destinies:

Destiny #1: They can ripen into a beautiful red tomato or

Destiny #2: They can be plucked and turned into a crispy treat.

I’m not typically a fan of fried vegetables, but after wandering past rows of plump green tomatoes these past few months, I finally got curious enough to whip up a batch of fried green tomatoes.

Since I did not have a family recipe for this dish, I went in search of one that had just the right flavor and texture to make frying a vegetable worth the extra calories.

I found just what I was looking for in this recipe from Food Network’s Down Home With the Neely’s.

The verdict?

They were the best fried green tomatoes I have ever tasted!

They were a hit with my friends!

They were gone in a matter of minutes!

If you have a few green tomatoes sitting around, I suggest you put them and this recipe to work.

Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes

(recipe adapted from The Neelys)

First things first, get your frying oil hot and ready!

Cook’s Tip: A 6-inch cast iron pot is ideal if you do not have a deep fryer or do not want to waste so much oil filling a larger pot.  A sturdy, heavy-bottomed pan or deep skillet would also work, though.

Fill pot with roughly 3 inches of canola oil and heat over medium-high until hot.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes.

Cut about 4-5 large tomatoes or 10-15 smaller tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Cook’s Tip: You can use red tomatoes, too, as long as they are firm and not fully ripened.

Time to set up the breading station!

In one shallow dish or plate, mix 3/4 cup flour with one Tablespoon garlic powder and one teaspoon Old Bay seasoning.

In another, beat three large eggs and two tablespoons of milk until smooth.

In a final dish, mix 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Cook’s Tip: Panko is a type of breadcrumb that gives fried foods a wonderfully light and crunchy texture.  You can find them in the Asian or seafood aisle.

Time to dress up our tomatoes!

First, dredge tomato slices in flour mixture and lightly shake off excess.

Next, dip slices in egg…

…and then in the Panko making sure every inch of tomato is covered.  Lightly shake off excess.  (Yes, your hands will get uber messy.)

Carefully place 3-4 slices of tomato at a time into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning once, until golden.

Remove and drain on paper towels.

Lightly sprinkle with salt while hot.

Diner’s Tip: Your first instinct will be to pop one of the these lovelies into your mouth right away.  DON’T DO IT!  That lovely is HOT! Just wait a couple minutes, okay?

I was super impressed with this recipe.  The tomatoes had such a great flavor and the texture of the breading was light and crispy instead of heavy and soggy.  Though best warm, they were still great at room temperature and maintained their crispiness.  Such versatility makes them the perfect addition to a summer potluck or picnic.

Can’t wait for my next crop of green tomatoes!

The Recipe

Serves 4

*Canola oil

*4-5 large green tomatoes (0r 10-12 smaller tomatoes)

*salt and pepper

*3/4 cup all-purpose flour

*1 Tablespoon garlic powder

*1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

*3 large eggs, beaten

*2 Tablespoons milk

*1-1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

*1/2 teaspoon paprika

*Pinch of cayenne pepper

Fill a medium-sized pot with a couple inches of canola oil.  Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot.

Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and season with salt and pepper.

In a shallow dish or plate, add flour, garlic powder and Old Bay and mix.

In a separate dish, pour beaten egg.

In a final dish, add Panko, paprika and cayenne.

Dredge a tomato slice in flour and shake off the excess.  Next, dip tomato in egg and then in the Panko, making sure the tomato is completely covered in bread crumbs.  Lightly shake off the excess and carefully place in hot oil.

Cook tomatoes 2-3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve warm.