Salad? ~ With a Side of Memory



Ahh, summertime. Ripe tomatoes.  I am always inspired by seasonal produce despite the fact that these days we often don’t really know what is in season what with cold storage and whatnot.  When in Europe it became clear to me that when you live where food doesn’t have to be transported thousands of miles, you get fresh and ripe produce.  In this country you have to work at it.  But here in Florida you can get ripe summer tomatoes.

My father loved gazpacho and so do I.  He gave me his recipe, on the back of a random piece of paper that I still have.  We talked more about food and recipes than about anything else.  If I could not remember whether you add the oil or the vinegar first in a vinaigrette, I could call him day or night.  So many things he made are in my recipe book whether I make them or not.  And my knives have never been sharpened so well since he passed.  But as usual, I digress.

I like my gazpacho “greener” than he did.  And traditional gazpacho has bread in it and I don’t add bread to mine, I find that with more green, it is bound enough and doesn’t need the bread.  And he added a very non-traditional secret ingredient that I definitely still add, later for the reveal.

So here goes.  For a medium batch I use a very large peeled ripe tomato, about half of a large english cucumber, peeled, half to whole green bell pepper, half a sweet onion, clove or more of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, a little vinegar (you just have to taste and can experiment with what one you like) salt to make the chemistry happen (again, taste, taste, taste) and……. aha:  V-8 juice.  Not a lot just enough to bring it together.  Add a small bunch of fresh parsley.  I make the whole think in my food processor and just keep going until I like the taste and texture.  Rather than adding bread, I serve it with good crunchy croutons.  And voila, Pop’s gazpacho, my style.

This wonderful salad/soup has been many a summer’s dinner for me.  My family found it an acquired taste.  But I love it and it always brings to mind a memory of my father who loved to cook and loved to share cooking ideas and recipes.  Someday I hope to be as imaginative in his honor.

Alfred’s Gazpacho Recipe – Rest in Peace Pop

Gazpacho –

About 3 very ripe tomatoes

1-2 unseeded cucumbers

1 green pepper

1 onion

1-2 cloves of garlic

1/4 approx. olive oil

1/8 c. each approx. lemon juice/vinegar

tabasco, salt, pepper, fresh parsley

1 small can V-8

NOTE:  I tend to leave out the vinegar & use lemon juice until I like the taste.

Blend it all up, serve super cold with thin sliced avocado, or croutons, or cilantro, whatever strikes your fancy.  Keeps well in the fridge.

Italian Night and Single Men

So a few weeks ago, we had an Italian night inspired by the over growth of my basil plants and an overpowering need to make a pesto.  We cheated just a little on the “Italian” theme by having a fresh gazpacho as a starter and in place of a salad.  The recipe is my dad’s who lives on through my collection of his handwritten or annotated print recipes and includes no binding bread as would a classic.  We also like it a bit “greener” than the classic with more cucumber.  In lieu of the bread binder we top it with homemade garlic croutons and sliced avocado.  The secret ingredient is V-8.

Next was the classic pesto with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil over linguine to accompany a nice chicken piccata, a recipe I particularly like that does not have wine but rather chicken broth, butter, shallot and capers.  All with grilled asparagus on the side.  Mind you I haven’t made pasta in a very long time, it isn’t something we eat often although we love it so this was a wonderful treat; the result of starting a tiny herb garden in my back yard.  (if it doesn’t thrive when left in God’s hands, it doesn’t stay).

Dessert was the Cook’s Illustrated Lemon Pound Cake which I love, with macerated mixed berries with orange zest and fresh whipped cream.

So that is the menu, now to the friends.  We strive for laughter at our dinners and it is usually in great supply.  On this particular occasion, our friend Phil was recounting an encounter he had in the elevator in his building.  A woman he had never met or seen asked him if he was single, to which he replied he was.  Forward, you say?  Keep in mind we are mostly in our 60’s around here.  She then asked what floor he lived on, digging further and further for specifics.  Ultimately she said something along the lines of “oh my, where has a handsome single man like you been?”  To which Phil replied, deadpan I am sure, “Federal Prison”.  She thought for a moment and then inquired “what for?” We assume this was to determine whether he was still an eligible catch, depending on the severity of his crimes.  He responded “Gun smuggling and money laundering” which ended the conversation.

Feel free to leave me a comment for any recipe that sounds good to you and I will post it.  and I obviously need help learning to upload photos to WordPress!