peach gazpacho

gazpacho must be one of the most exciting dishes to prepare. there are so many ways to make it, and its so easy to get creative as long as you follow one rule: use the freshest, ripest, most fragrant ingredients you can get your hands on. so i did that– kind of. but even where i bent the rules– using canned tomato sauce instead of tomato vegetable juice or a home-made sauce, the end results were delicious and rewarding.

i’ve been impatiently waiting for heirloom tomatoes to show up at the market, and in the meantime exploring recipes that add canteloupe, substitute watermelon, and get back to the basics. the classic moosewood cookbook‘s version has lots of raw onions in it, with a tomato juice base and chunks of veggies. others tell you to blend everything together for a smooth soup. “pink” gazpacho is another popular version that mixes bread crumbs in, probably to cut the acidity. it’s all about texture for me, so i don’t think blending everything is the way to go, but finely chopping avoids too much chunkiness. also, i prefer to add lots of citrus to take the edge off the tomato instead of breadcrumbs.

so in my anticipation for heirlooms, i kept encountering peaches at the market, which inspired this fruity combo: here’s an easy peach gazpacho recipe i made this past weekend with fresh orange heirloom tomatoes, juicy yellow peaches and lemon-basil from mt. pleasants farmer’s market.

soundtrack? neil young’s “harvest”. only appropriate after spending a good forty minutes reveling over the freshness of the markets bounty. photos to come.

peach gazpacho
1 bell pepper (use yellow or red to complement the sweetness of the peach, or opt for green to cut it back)
1 small cucumber
2 juicy overripe peaches
5-6 heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped
handful lemon basil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
small can tomato sauce, with water added to reach desired consistency OR 2 cups tomato juice (ie. V8)
juice of one lime, juice of half a lemon
2 tbs light vinegar (white white, ideally)
1 tsp paprika
small piece of star anise, crushed OR dash of cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp + salt

combine the tomatoes, one peach, the crushed garlic and the citrus juices in a blender, or pulverize with a handheld blender. it just occurred to me that using some fresh orange juice would go well, too. add the vinegar, and let these ingredients sit.

meanwhile, finely chop the other peach, the pepper, and the cucumber into super-small cubes.

in a large bowl, combine the blended tomato mixture and half a can of tomato sauce, plus one cup water. mix this well and taste for consistency and flavor. this is where i added more tomato sauce and more water, but left the soup on the thicker side. to enhance the flavor of the peach, i found adding more salt was useful, and that the star anise complements the sweetness of the peach. i like everything spicy so lots of black pepper and cayenne for me!

roughly chop the basil and throw in all the finely chopped goodies– mix well.

once everything is well mixed, and at your desired texture/taste (add salt, add water. if too salty, crush another tomato or add some more citrus) stick in the freezer to serve immediately or in the fridge to serve eventually.

*i would try fresh sweet corn, blending cucumbers with the tomatoes, and roasting the tomatoes before crushing, too.

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