Fall may just be a week away, but it’s hotter than Hades in Santa Barbara. Most of us here don’t have air conditioning because usually all it takes is opening up a couple of doors and windows and the ocean breezes cool everything down. Lately, there is no breeze, no cooling down — I open up the French doors and stand with my dog every morning waiting for the breeze. Nada. The heat wave just keeps on rolling and so does my complaining.
Hades happens to be an incredible environment for my tomatoes. They have been nothing short of beautiful, incredible depth of flavor and dare I even say, too sweet? I like to leave them on the vine until the last possible moment, sliced fresh on the plate you can still taste a little bit of sunshine. Can we please bottle up that fresh tomato, earth and sun scent? “Indian Summer” by Valerie Rice…(yes, the heat is making me loopy – or maybe it’s all the Coronas I’ve been drinking to cool off).
The heat and a killer tomato harvest make for perfect gazpacho weather. This cold soup hits it just right — it’s cool and refreshing, but roasting the tomatoes brings a smoky flavor that reminds you of the promise of fall — please say fall is coming! This roasted gazpacho was one of the side-by-side courses served at Elizabeth’s baby shower earlier in the summer to good reviews.
The gazpacho police may want to arrest me for calling this gazpacho because it has no bread, but I love this gluten free version and don’t miss the bread one bit. You won’t either. When you roast tomatoes they become more concentrated, so store bought tomatoes will work just fine, be sure to buy them on the vine for the most flavor.
Indian Summer Roasted Gazpacho
Makes about 5 cups
Roasting note: Sometimes, I’ll leave a little bit of the tomato skin on to get more of a smoky flavor. I use my handy-dandy iron roaster to roast the veggies, but you can place your tomatoes and peppers on a roasting pan and place under the broiler. Keep an eye on them, you want the skin to blister, but you don’t want the veggies to disintegrate.
2 pounds garden tomatoes, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 pound Persian cucumber (about five), peeled, plus more for garnish
1 large red bell pepper- roasted, skin and seeds removed
1 clove garlic
1 chile de arbol roasted and soaked, stem removed (this is optional for those that like it spicy)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons alleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Cucumbers, finely diced
Best quality olive oil
After roasting your tomatoes and bell pepper, add all ingredients into the blender, including any accumulated juices from the roasting process — (a Vitamix is ideal here, Justine!). Puree until the ingredients are smooth. Taste for seasoning and add a little water id the flavor is too concentrated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve two times. I know this seems like a pain, but it really makes the soup delightful and gets rid of any seeds from the tomatoes.
Chill four hours or overnight. Serve with garnish of chopped cucumbers, a drizzle of olive oil and even a few chopped cherry tomatoes if you have them on hand. Enjoy!