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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Farmers Market Gazpacho

I'm still patiently waiting for my container vegetable garden to mature and ripen.  In the meantime, our Farmers Market is a beacon of summer's freshness.  I strolled downtown early this morning to pick up fresh produce for a gazpacho supper. I had my proper reusable bags and wore a smart market outfit with the attitude to match.

Even at that early hour, it was bustling. Dizzying, even.  Almost breathtaking.  I usually make a couple of passes through the vendors surveying what is available and what looks best.  Stall after stall of bursting ripe vegetables. Almost everyone had their samples sliced open to tempt with their juicy insides.  Cantelope, honeydew, and watermelon from an Amish community in western Kentucky.  The same Amish community my parents frequented for their produce.   There were rows of heirloom tomatoes from Scott, Madison, Jessamine, and Casey counties.  Dotted in and through the produce stalls were stands selling fresh local cheeses and meats.  The corn is apparently in. Big time!  Ears of corn pulled halfway open to reveal their Silver Queen, Peaches And Cream, or Supersweet identities.

The fresh blackberries were huge. Really huge.  Almost the size of my thumb. I wanted to plop several in my mouth with no one looking, but they were looking, of course, so I bought some.

By my second pass through the stalls, I remembered that I was actually there for gazpacho ingredients.  My third pass meant serious business.  I needed bulky tomatoes for the juicy base of the soup  As I scoured the stands for not-pretty-but-tasty tomato seconds, I managed to find my favorite farm from Jessamine County selling  Big Uglies, as they call them. Big, ugly, and cheap. Score. I picked up  purple and green  bell peppers that were incredibly fresh. Warm and soft.  Flaccid, in a good way..

Assorted cherry tomatoes from Madison County would be the perfect garnish for my market soup.  A tri colored basket of Sungold, Black Cherry, Yellow Pearl, and Orange Grape fit the bill.

Next door, I found fresh picked green-topped purple onions from Scott County along with Candied Onions and garlic.  On the other side of the stall, I found tiny cucumbers.  Cornichon size.  Adorable.  Maybe not for gazpacho, but what the hell?  Two pints.  Just down from the wonderfully smelling omlette station, I found good medium sized cucumbers  that appeared very plump and ideal for soup.

My bags were very full with eveything I needed along with some things I didn't need, but simply had to have.
By the time I finished, the market had gotten very crowded.  Manuevering  through the masses with large heavy bags was a challenge.  Dodging leashed pets and strollers was nearly impossible.
I made it home with my stash and started mincing, chopping, and peeling everything for the gazpacho.
I took the large Uglies and dropped them into simmering water for 5 seconds to release the skin for peeling, pureed them into juice, and set them aside.  I didn't bother straining the seeds.  After finely dicing cucumbers, peppers, onions, and garlic, I pureed half for body and left the remainder for texture. Once I quartered the tri colored tiny tomatoes, I combined everything and seasoned it with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Olive oil, sherry vinegar, and fresh parsley finished it off.  Some recipes call for canned juice.  The juice from todays tomatoes was so pure and sweet, I didn't even want to mask it.  I covered the bowl to refrigerate overnight and blend flavors, but not without having a bowl straight away while it was still warm from the summer sun.
Michael walked into the kitchen and said, "It smells good in here."  And it did. Not from cooking, but from  chopping and slicing such fresh market stand produce.  The air was perfumed with  flavor. 

No need for the gazpacho police here.  I realize this is not authentic Andalusion gazpacho.  I adore the  pureed tomato, bread, and garlic version as well as the next person. I wasn't going for an authentic culinary stroll through the streets of Seville.

I wanted a garden my mouth.

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