hot days, cold foods ...

The temperature here has been pretty unrelentingly brutal of late, and so the idea of eating anything cooked just isn’t doing it for me. With all the fresh gorgeous local produce showing up at my local organic pushers and my garden getting into the swing of things, I’m not complaining. I’ve been happily living on salads and raw fruits and berries and veggies, and my brain’s been occupied with a mess of random-firing new recipe ideas that will help me put the bounty to good use.

Friday night a few friends came over for some feasting and relaxing, as is our wont. J and B are the best dinner guests a girl could hope for – they’ll eat anything you put in front of them, do it with a smile, and never balk at the lack of animal-y ingredients. I decided to go with a couple old hot-day standbys, gazpacho and carrot salad. Being a person who can’t not mess with a good thing, and being rich in fresh basil this time of year, the classic Spanish cold soup recipe went through a number of costume changes, crossed the Mediterranean, and landed on the shores of Italy. And the carrot salad, well… it just got extra sweet. And beta-full. I'm pretty sure I'll wake up in the morning with x-ray vision.

Italian gazpacho

what you need …

4 medium, very ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 3 ¼ c.)
1 small red onion, chopped (about ¾ c.)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 c.)
1 c. English cucumber, unpeeled, chopped
1 c. zucchini, unpeeled, chopped
½ c. celery, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. home made salt-free veggie stock (can use good-quality store-bought)
1 c. fresh basil, chopped and loosely packed
1 tsp. fresh oregano
½ tsp. sea salt (if using a salted stock you may want to reduce this or omit entirely)
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. good, strong extra virgin olive oil (optional, but recommended)
lemon slices, more fresh basil

what you do …

Combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, veggie stock, herbs, pepper, vinegars, and olive oil (if using) in food processor and purée until liquefied.

Add the rest of the veggies and pulse through until desired consistency is reached

Taste before adding salt, then go to town if you think it needs it.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, and preferably overnight. When serving, ladle into chilled bowls and top with fresh basil en chiffonade.

sweet and simple carrot-beet salad

what you need …

2 medium beets, peeled and grated
5 large carrots (just over 1 lb.), scrubbed and grated, excess juice squeezed out *
1/2 c. raisins (I like jumbo Chilean flame raisins, but thompsons are good, too)
8-10 unsulphured dried apricots, slivered
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice, pulp and all
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/3 c. dry-roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds (I just get the raw ones and toast them myself)

what you do …

Throw carrots, beets, and dried fruit into a large bowl** and mix well.

Combine orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, orange zest, and salt in a jar, shake well, and let sit 10 minutes. Once the 10's up, shake it again and pour over salad, tossing to distribute.

Cover bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to chill and allow flavours to marry. If you think of it, take it out and toss it every 15 minutes or so to make sure everything gets equally juicy

Serve topped with sunflower seeds.

* this step is important, as otherwise your salad will end up a little on the soupy side

** make sure to use non-reactive (ie glass, enamel, etc.) bowls for this recipe

Seeing as my Italian gazpacho recipe was birthed out of a desire to showcase the fresh basil being belched out of my veggie patch at an alarming rate, it fits the bill for this month's No Croutons Required challenge being hosted by Holler over at Tinned Tomatoes, and I humbly submit to her judgment.


JohnP said...

I am so happy you are blogging and these recipes look delicious! More good things to try....

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Lovely soup Lauren! Thank you for submitting it to No Croutons Required. Welcome to the food blogosphere :)

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

The addition of balsamic in the gazpacho sounds delicious!