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It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Like any good drinker, I’ve been known to be a tad particular about my bloody Marys. Now, that’s not to say snobby; one of the best I’ve ever had was in a super-sized to-go cup on Bourbon Street. Were they simmering fresh summertime tomatoes with celery and other aromatics for hours to achieve their blood-red base? Probably not.
On the other hand, one of the worst bloody Marys I’ve ever consumed was from an organic restaurant that made their own tomato vodka. It was an incredibly anemic looking Mary. It also left me with a week's worth of horseradish in my teeth, which is where my kale salad usually resides.
Despite my high-low bloody Mary experiences, I was fairly confident that I could find a happy medium in my own kitchen. Come July, I’m always looking for ways to pack fresh tomatoes into anything and everything that I consume. And when your cocktail is 50 percent vegetables, that means you can drink twice as many. Right, mom?
In crafting my perfect combination, I took inspiration from my favorite Food52 DIY-er mrswheelbarrow. Her Spicy Bloody Mary Mix calls for a handful of spinach, but given that everyone’s herb gardens are overflowing this time of year, I decided to go with basil instead. And since I avoid handling jalapeños at all costs, my mix gets its kick from a little bit of Sriracha.
If you’re as particular as I am about your morning cocktails, I encourage you to futz around to your heart's content. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, carrots instead of celery, or if you like things a little more toothsome, load it up with horseradish. Just remember to floss after breakfast.
Makes about 5 cups
3 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
3 pounds tomatoes (about 10), quartered
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
In a food processor or blender, pulse the celery, shallot, and garlic until finely chopped. Alternatively, you can do this by hand.
Add the celery mixture along with the tomatoes, basil, salt, and celery seed to a large, non-reactive saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then cover, turn the heat to low, and cook until the tomatoes have begun releasing their juices, about 20 minutes.
Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher, fork, or ladle to break them apart. Cook for another 20 minutes, until very soft and soupy.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or food mill. Stir in the lemon juice and Sriracha, taste for seasoning, and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
To make bloody Marys, combine 1 cup of mix with 1/4 cup of vodka and garnish with celery sticks, lemon slivers, and plenty of basil leaves.
Photos by Phoebe Lapine