These may have been just about the best-traveled tomatoes around.
Back and forth they went, halfway across the country, waiting to be chopped up and stirred into a long-put-off menu item.
Finally last night they made their debut--in a very un-tomato-y sounding but nevertheless superb Green Gazpacho Soup. Magnifique! Oh, but what they went through to finally land in those soup bowls!
At least six weeks ago--very early in the growing season--I began begging Hubby, "At the first sign of any green tomatoes on the vines, bring them in. I have a recipe just waiting for them."
Sure enough, when the fledgling tomatoes first began popping out--their green skintones making them almost indistinguishable from the surrounding vines--I started bugging him again. "Bring me some green tomatoes just as soon as they're big enough to pick."
Dutifully, then, at the appointed time, when the very first outcroppings turned into plump, green orbs, Hubby hauled in five or six of them for me to chill on the shelves in the fridge.
"Oh, good. I'll make the gazpacho soon," I promised.
More green tomatoes arrived; more for the fridge. "Can't wait for the gazpacho," I warbled about my "must-cook" recipe. Still the green tomatoes piled up.
Time to head out to Phoenix to see the grands and their family. "I'll take the tomatoes with me; we'll have the gazpacho out there," I assured. A hefty plastic bag of green tomatoes went into the cooler along with the other veggies needed to make the dish.
Time in Phoenix--and grandkid visits--arrived and went. Lots of good, fresh food got prepared on that trip, but the gazpacho--first on my to-make "wish-list" when I got there, went begging.
Back into the cooler the sack of green tomatoes went. "I'll do it first thing when I get home," I vowed, rather pathetically now.
Back home, the July Fourth holiday was upon us. Holiday food to prepare--"The gazpacho will be good with all our other foods at the lake", I managed with clenched teeth. Those green tomatoes WOULD be used this holiday, no matter what. The holiday passed. No soup.
Evening-meal-prep time, July 6. I determinedly bring out my cutting board. I at last assemble the other ingredients--avocado, cucumber, green pepper, and cilantro, and drag out the green-tomato sack. My patient little tomatoes are as hardy and green as they were weeks ago when I first begged for them to be plucked from the vine. I chop and in a food processor puree the green mixture. Into the fridge to chill so the flavors meld.
Dinner time. Green Gazpacho Soup at last! WORTH THE WAIT! My long-suffering green tomatoes finally have their debut, along with their other green-veggie companions. A more perfect hot-summer evening meal never could have been invented. My new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, prefaces this Green Gazpacho Soup recipe by stating, "Grabbing the first green tomatoes off the vine is wonderful because you don't have to wait for them to ripen." (although you might wait a long time to prepare them, I should have added.)
Oh, well, at least the book's other statement prefacing the recipe is 100-percent, spot-on correct: "You can almost taste the freshness of a summer garden just from reading the title of this great soup served cold." The freshness of the summer garden perfectly describes Green Gazpacho Soup--all the way to the last long-put-off drop!
Green Gazpacho Soup
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 ripe avocado, peeled
3 medium-sized green tomatoes (or the least-ripe tomatoes you can find), cored and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar (we use sugar substitute)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Mince 1/2 cup green pepper; set aside for garnish. Place remaining pepper in large bowl. Cut cucumber lengthwise in half. With spoon remove and discard cucumber seeds. Coarsely chop cucumber. Mince 1/4 cup cucumber; set aside for garnish. Add remaining cucumber to pepper in large bowl. Cut avocado into chunks. In large bowl add avocado, tomatoes, cilantro onion, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, sugar, cumin, salt, and cayenne to cucumbers and pepper; toss. In batches puree vegetable mixture in food processor until smooth. Transfer to another large bowl or 8-cup measuring cup. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cold water; cover and refrigerate 2 hours to allow flavors to blend and soup to chill. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves, minced green pepper, and cucumber. Serve chilled.