Gazpacho

This gazpacho was on our menu when we first opened in 2011. Delicious, refreshing, and full of the flavors of summer, Craig Page was a good sport to small dice all of these veggies in large batches every morning. He has since left us to pursue a career at the ACC planning department, and no one has had the dedication to make it in that kind of quantity again. Just thinking about gazpacho reminds me of the dance party mornings and huge hugs he used to bring to our kitchen. Here is a recipe for a smaller batch so that you can enjoy this summertime delight in your own home. Be careful if you choose to dance while you dice.

1/2 cup fine diced Vidalia onion

1 cucumber, seeded, (save the cores and seeds) small dice

8 tomatoes, seeded, (save the cores and seeds) small dice

1 red bell pepper, small dice

1 jalapeno, fine dice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped basil

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients except for tomato and cucumber cores and seeds. Mix well. In a food processor, puree the tomato and cucumber cores and seeds until completely smooth. Strain the solids out, and add the juice to the mixed ingredients. Season with salt to taste. Chill.

Caponata

Italy 078

 

In 2008, I had a real Eat, Pray, LoveĀ summer. I had broken up with my boyfriend of many years the previous fall, and almost immediately decided I needed to spend the summer learning to cook Italian food in Tuscany. A friend of my bosses set me up to do a stage with a fantastic chef named Salvatore in a little town called Greve in Chianti. His restaurant had just a few tables inside, and several more outside. He ran the kitchen and his wife tended to the guests. I rented a little apartment at an agriturismo just outside of town and walked into Greve each morning to spend the day cooking, visiting farms, vineyards, butchers–really following Salvatore around. I learned how to cook everything on the menu at Mangiando, Mangiando, one or two recipes at a time. They are hyper-local in Italy so it was very unusual to find caponata on a menu in Tuscany, but Salvatore’s mother was from Sicily, where eggplants are everywhere. This is her recipe as he remembered it. As eggplants are coming into season now, this is the perfect recipe to celebrate their bounty. It can be served warm over cous cous or as Salvatore would have served it, chilled on top of sliced, grilled ciabatta.

3 cups medium diced eggplant

2 bell peppers, not green, but feel free to mix it up with yellow, orange, and red

1/2 red onion, julienned

2 heirloom tomatoes, large diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup capers

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

Heat oil over medium in a saucepot. Saute peppers, onions, and garlic until they begin to color. Add eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, and vinegar. Simmer until most of the liquid is cooked off. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill.

This recipe is even better the next day once the flavors have had time to mingle. Pour a glass of Sangiovese and enjoy on the patio.