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On your Mark Get Set: Summer of Tomato and Basil

2011 August 23

By Brianna BainHeirloom TomatoesThe tomatoes are heavy and ripe on the vine at my house; eggplant squash, carrots, beets and little baby water melons also make up the symphony of veggies in my Summer garden. This is the first year that I have had such a rich and diverse garden since converting my front lawn to an edible landscape. So, when reading Cassidy’s recipe for her “So Many Summer Veggies Pizza” I knew we had a similar starting place as I took the baton for the next leg of the Relay.  The farmers markets are full of the most amazing  looking food this time of year and if you are lucky enough to have access to a garden this is the time when everything is bursting- green and dripping with anticipated harvest. The feelings are good when you buy veggies from your local market no doubt, but when you harvest your own just a few steps form the kitchen food suddenly takes on a whole new meaning and flavor. Your own hands, planting the seed, tending to the soil, and always checking for its safety against insects and other predators. Each plant in my garden is like a little friend who, if treated with great respect, appreciation and tender loving care, will produce for me the most amazing fruits!

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Cassidy pulled together a Summery pizza creation from her CSA and home garden, presenting me with a broad selection of potential Relay items. In scanning my garden and her recipe I chose the easy route with the always prolific summer duo of tomato and basil. I really didn’t have much of a choice as I had planted nine tomato plants this year and if I couldn’t use them quick I would start loosing them to the critters who know when the best fruits are ready – the moment before you go to harvest. So it’s tomato time!

Recently I attended a dinner party where a cold tomato soup much like a chunky gazpacho was served as the meal starter. It was salty, sweet and just right! Because of the volume and variety of tomatoes I have  I wanted to create a summer tomato recipe that was mostly tomatoes without it becoming a sauce or another summer salsa. This cold tomato soup was just the muse I needed to start brainstorming a cool soup that could take a typical gazpacho to the next level. I’m thinking crunchy, sweet, spicy and fresh while holding it’s own as a starter or a meal.

With four varieties of tomato and no shortage of basil I head out for a Summer soup lap. I hit my favorite Hillcrest Farmers Market and rounded out my ingredients with sweet peaches and crunchy heirloom Armenian cucumbers. I just need to find my touch of spicy and we’re all set.

See you back on Thursday for completed cold soup adventure and a yummy recipe!

Brianna is a seasonal food enthusiast who spends her time helping to share good food stories as Co-founder and Editor of RecipeRelay and growing organic food for local San Diego restaurants as a Farm Manager with Urban Plantations.