Springtime tends to make vegetable lovers giddy with excitement. Unfortunately, it also makes us impatient, as the fresh, ripe flavors we crave become s l o w l y available. Right now, the zucchini at the market (not yet from my garden) looks fresh and delicious. Cucumbers and peppers aren’t half bad right now, either.
But those supermarket tomatoes?
Don’t even bother with springtime tomatoes. I think they’re just little cardboard orbs disguised as tomatoes.
So, what’s a vegetable lover to do? Cheat. Relax, I’m not telling you to cheat on your taxes or cheat on your calculus exam. We’re going to cheat by avoiding fresh tomatoes altogether, even in a dish which ordinarily features fresh tomatoes quite prominently.
How are we going to cheat? We’re going to use salsa and vegetable juice. Stay with me for a minute.
Salsa, whether home canned or store bought, is often a superior alternative to out of season tomatoes. The blend of tomatoes, onions, herbs, and spices offers a whole lot more flavor than whatever was picked green and trucked up from far away, gassed along the way to artificially force a red color (without doing a darn thing for flavor). Likewise, vegetable juice forms a perfect – and perfectly obvious – base for a simple gazpacho. If you don’t believe me, try this recipe. If I’m wrong, post a comment below!
1 small zucchini, peeled and chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (save one slice unpeeled for garnish later)
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped (set aside a small piece for garnish later)
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped (set aside a small piece for garnish, later)
1 clove fresh garlic, diced
1 cup salsa
2 cups tomato-based vegetable juice (such as V-8)
Add all ingredients except garnish to a blender and puree until smooth. Serve well chilled and sprinkled with colorful diced vegetables. If you’d like, add a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!