The Mom asked for Gazpacho for dinner. Knowing her well I asked if she wanted it the way we made it at Angeli, meaning the traditional Spanish way, a smooth puree of soaked bread, vinegar, copious extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onion. No, she said. She wanted it salsa style. I think the last time I made it this way was back in the early 80s so apparently she’s moving back in time when it comes to her palate. But the Farmers Market Fairy had just delivered some exceptional late summer produce, as you can see from the photo above. It was quick work to chop everything up, drown it in some (homemade) tomato juice and spice it up with a little soy sauce and some additional salt.
Yes, we here in California are blessed right now (despite the drought) with produce that is sweet, intensely flavored and absolutely beautiful. The Jimmy Nardello peppers especially made this simple dish, more than simple. For several years few farmers were growing great Italian frying peppers. But happily those times are past. A good frying pepper should be fairly thin skinned yet meaty and with the inherent bitterness tempered by sweetness.
Late Fall Chopped Gazpacho
Make this simple dish according to your taste. If you like more tomatoes, use more. If you really love cucumbers, pile them in. This amount serves 1 glutton or 2 regular eaters.
2 handfuls sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters depending on size.
1 Persian cucumber, peeled and cut into small dice
3 frying peppers, stem and seeds removed cut in half horizontally and then across into strips
1/4 sweet yellow onion, minced or chopped red or green scallions if the market has them
Tomato Juice, just enough to get the mixture marinating on its own
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste (I use 1/4 cup, you’ll probably use a tablespoon)
1-3 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
Additional salt if necessary
A squeeze of fresh lemon
Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Add enough tomato juice to barely cover. Add remaining flavor enhancers, stir, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until nice and chilled. Taste again before serving to adjust salt/soy/lemon.