Summer's Freshest Mashup: Tomato Soup + Salad
On a warm summer evening, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle's Pike Place Market, and the kitchen at Matt's in the Market wowed by combining a couple of seasonal staples. The gorgeous tomato soup + salad inspired me to try making a Caprese Gazpacho at home.
What a Summer Treat
Fresh, vine-ripened, farmers market or home-grown tomatoes are peaking, and there's really no better way to show off those juicy heirlooms than in a lovely Caprese salad. Unless it's a bowl of gazpacho. Let's not label this Italian-meets-Spanish mashup as fusion food, but rather a surprising combo that makes perfect sense.
Chef Shane Ryan said he was looking to create a refreshing summer soup and experimented a bit before landing on the winning recipe featuring some smoked tomatoes, cucumbers, and melon. Burrata, tomatoes, slivers of peppers, and curlicues of cucumber are arranged in a large bowl, and the server finishes the dish at the table by pouring in the gazpacho. As that dramatic moment happens, you can hear oooh's and mmm's from diners at nearby tables. And it tasted exactly like you dream summer tomatoes should taste, bright and nicely acidic, balanced by the rich quality of the cream-filled mozzarella known as burrata.
Here's How to DIY
Days later, I couldn't stop thinking about that impressive creation, so I tried to recreate it, using Chef John's gazpacho recipe. The key was scoring some really good, very ripe tomatoes. I've got a regular produce guy I buy from at Pike Place Market, and I've learned it's always good to ask what they're trying to unload because it's slightly over the hill. This approach worked particularly well for this dish. I scored a huge bag of heirloom tomatoes for $5!
Those beauties were sliced in half horizontally, and then I squeezed out the seeds, a step that helps concentrate the tomato flavor and create a smoother texture. Everything went into the blender, and a few pulse cycles later, instant gazpacho. My final presentation wasn't nearly as beautiful as the restaurant version, but it tasted pretty darned close to my happy memory of the original. I might never serve straight-up gazpacho again.
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