If you’ve been following along this summer, you know I’m intriqued with the tomato-strawberry flavor pairing. Earlier, I experimented with a Fresh Strawberry-Tomato Dessert Sauce to accompany Heavenly Parmesan Sour Cream Pound Cake. It was a surprise hit. Hopefully, there will be time to explore at least a couple more strawberry-tomato dishes before summer turns to fall.
While pondering what to cook next and flagging from the 90+ degree heat wave that hit Seattle this week, the inevitable happened. I opened the oh-so-wonderfully-cold frig and saw, at eye level, a large bowl of strawberries, alongside an equally large bowl of Sungold cherry tomatoes, both of which were intended for salads.
The next thing I knew, strawberries, tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, and garlic were heading to the blender. In they went. Then a few glugs of chicken stock, a long pour of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Whirrrrrr…
Then a taste. OMG! I drank a large glass on the spot. For dinner later that night, the remainder, now well chilled, went into elegant, stemmed glasses and was garnished with poached prawns, whole strawberries, and Frizzled Pancetta. If there had been an avocado, I might have garnished the soup instead with Prawn, Avocado & Lime Escabeche. Well, next time.
A loaf of crackly bread and a couple of flavorful cheeses made a simple and lovely meal, perfect for a hot summer evening. For dessert, there was Blueberry, Lime & Rose Petal Cheesecake. We each had two slices.
Kicky Tomato Strawberry Gazpacho
A sweet, tangy, spicy variation on the more traditional tomato gazpacho, this cold soup makes an excellent first course for hot summer evenings. Although not mandatory, the poached prawns and Frizzled Pancetta garnishes give the soup a little more substance and added visual appeal. Or glam it up and garnish with Prawn, Avocado & Lime Escabeche.
1 pound stemmed, chopped sweet baby tomatoes
1 pound stemmed, sliced strawberries
½ small sweet onion, peeled, and rough chopped
1-2 Serrano chili peppers, halved lengthwise, cored, seeded, and deribbed (use disposable gloves!)
2 small sprigs cilantro
2 cloves peeled garlic
¾ cup chicken or vegetable stock
¼ cup olive oil
2-4 tablespoons excellent quality red wine vinegar (start with the minimum and adjust)
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
4-6 poached prawns, optional
4-6 whole strawberries with stems, optional
4-6 sprigs cilantro, optional
Frizzled Pancetta, optional (below)
- To the jar of a blender, add tomatoes, strawberries, onion, Serrano chiles, and garlic. Cover and liquefy.
- Add the stock, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Cover and liquefy.
- Taste for a perfect balance between sweetness, acidity, salt, and depth of flavor. Adjust as necessary.
- Add a little more stock if necessary to achieve a good soup texture (not too thick, not too thin).
- Remove soup to a covered container and chill for at least 4 hours.
- To serve, ladle soup into each of 4-6 clear glass cups or bowls, and if desired, garnish each with a poached prawn, whole strawberry, sprig of cilantro, and a small amount of Frizzled Pancetta. Or, gild the lily and garnish with Prawn, Avocado & Lime Escabeche.
Makes about 5-6 cups; serves 4-6.
I add this tasty garnish frequently to soups, whether hot or cold. It adds a savory, salty flavor note that is quite appealing.
2-3 very thin slices pancetta, cut into ¼-inch wide strips
- Coat a medium saute pan with vegetable spray and set over medium-high heat.
- When hot, add the strips of pancetta and saute briskly, turning frequently, until they are crisp and curling, about 2 minutes.
- Remove to paper towels to drain.
Makes a small handful.