Tomatoes, Zucchini & Cucumber

What a treat to find the makings of gazpacho in my CSA box today. I hadn’t prepared it all summer long, and the sun-kissed tomatoes, hearty cucumbers and zucchini were all the reminder I needed to stretch the season out a little longer. I’ve prepared this chilled soup recipe for so many years as a chunky puree, but discovered a new way to enjoy it from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, who holds aside some of the diced vegetables to stir back into the soup, making it eat like a crunchy, soupy salad. You can top this with avocado or grilled shrimp, but I like crispy, garlicky croutons and a hit of cilantro almond pesto to add even more body and brightness.

 Chunky Gazpacho with Almond Cilantro Pesto

5 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves

2 stalks celery, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

1 zucchini, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

1/2 red onion, cut into a small dice, divided into two portions

2 cups organic, low sodium tomato juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

dash of hot sauce

salt and pepper

toasted croutons made from French bread

For the pesto

1 bunch of cilantro

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup of toasted almonds

1/4 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper

Place all of the tomatoes and garlic, and half of the remaining vegetables into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add tomato juice, olive oil, vinegar, hot sauce and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until slightly chunky, with small bits of vegetables evident. Stir in the remaining vegetables, taste for seasoning, then chill in fridge for a half hour.

For the pesto: Using a small food processor, blend together the cilantro, garlic, almonds, olive oil and salt and pepper. Taste the pesto for seasoning, then add on top of the gazpacho before serving, along with the crispy croutons.

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