I never understood what made this gazpacho particularly Californian. I was raised in Detroit by parents with California roots, so perhaps it was simply a final distinguishing flourish of the recipe. I do know that it was one of my favorite summertime dishes. Our whole family loved this gazpacho, and it has stood the test of time, earning its place as a favorite, year after year. My brother and I used to eagerly wait at our enamel kitchen table -- the kind with the pull-out leaves for when company came over -- for our mother to spoon the gazpacho into bowls and bring us the shiny, crunchy medley. Marinated overnight in the fridge, the flavors grew on each other until it was officially ready to be devoured.
There's no cooking to be done, so if you can bear with the chopping -- and I prefer this method over the food processor, because you have more control over the beauty of the finished product -- then you'll be greatly rewarded when all is done. If worse comes to worst, pour yourself a glass of crisp, chilled wine to keep you company as you patiently fill your serving bowl with colorful produce confetti.
Use the freshest vegetables you can find -- if you can, go with heirloom varieties from your local farmers market. You'll love the full-flavored, richly textured results. Though she claims it isn't authentic, my mom happily served this gazpacho with a dollop of sour cream, which is how I recommend you do it, too.
6 tomatoes (preferably heirlooms) 3 to 4 small kirby cucumbers (preferably organic) 1 medium sweet onion 1 green pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/3 cup good olive oil 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar 1 1/2 cup tomato passata Your favorite hot pepper sauce Sea salt Freshly cracked black pepper Sour cream
When she's not cooking, styling, and shooting her own creations for her blog Licking the Plate, Melina loves making food look its best for the New York Times, Eating Well, Sweet Paul, Edible, and other folks who love real food. Decidedly a good food champion, she wrote the cookbook Kid Chef to empower foodie kids (and kids-at-heart) in the kitchen. http://amzn.to/1XmaEgB