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Sublime perches to eat.

The Peachiest Rustic Gazpacho

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 10-20

My husband taught me to halve a peach like an avocado, but more gently. Slice the circumference of the peach, vertically - stem to tail. Using both hands, gently twist each half in opposite directions. If you squash a ripe one, eat it, and try another - your peaches don't have to be perfect. They only have to taste perfect, which they will if you find them farm-fresh and they feel supple to the touch. Warning: if visiting Italy, don't even dream of prodding fruit and vegetables at the market - you'll be spanked! It's a bad habit, and spoils the fruit for the next customer.

Ingredients

  • Ripe peaches - 6 ripe peaches (or other stone fruit, like apricots), halved and pits removed
  • Maple syrup - 2 tablespoons
  • Tomatoes - About 8 large tomatoes
  • Cucumbers - 1 very large, or 2 small cucumbers
  • Yellow onion - 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • Garlic - 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Red wine vinegar - 4 tablespoons, more or less to take
  • Lemon juice - 2 tablespoons, freshly squeezed
  • Tomato paste - 1 tablespoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 3/4 cup
  • Mint leaves - 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Basil leaves - 3/4 cup packed basil leaves
  • Smoked paprika - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sea salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper - Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Rustic croutons - About 30 rustic croutons
  • Chili flakes or Hot sauce (optional) -
  • Garnish:
  • Minced Chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven broiler to high. Line the halved peaches cut-side up on a baking sheet and slather them with maple syrup. Broil for 2-5 minutes, until the peaches begin to turn a caramelized amber color. Remove and let cool.
  2. Quarter four tomatoes. Over a large bowl, grate the cut side of the tomatoes, allowing the pulp and seeds to drip into the bowl until only the skin is left in your hands - discard the skin. Quarter the remaining four tomatoes and add them to the bowl, skins and all.
  3. Peel and halve the cucumbers - scoop out the seeds. Chop the cucumber coarsely and add to the bowl of tomatoes.
  4. Note: if you are using a food processor, you will need to make the gazpacho in two batches, using half of the ingredients each time and then combining both batches in a large bowl or pot to mix. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to make the entire batch at once - it will also result in a creamier gazpacho.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste and half the olive oil to a food processor or bowl with immersion blender, and blend into a puree.
  6. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, two of the caramelized peaches, mint, basil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to your blending device or bowl. Blend into a creamy consistency, while continuously pouring in the remaining olive oil in a slow steady trickle. If it is not creamy enough, add more olive oil in the same manner.
  7. Taste, and adjust for more salt, olive oil, lemon juice, basil or spice - depending on your taste buds. Trust your palate!
  8. To serve, add several croutons to each bowl and ladle the gazpacho on top. Garnish with chives and a few cooled peach slices for a beautiful, sweet twist.
  9. How to make croutons (Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery): Just cut up your aging bread and put it in the oven (preheat to 400F before popping your bread in the oven). You can drizzle olive oil on the bread first if you like, or just toast it dry. Like crumbs, spices are a lovely and easy addition to croutons. I always enjoyed eating commercial, bagged croutons when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until recently that I began really understanding what they could offer. Croutons can be all sizes and shapes, and they can take on almost any flavor you come up with. They’re a lot more than just bread cubes!
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