The best month of the year, as far as I'm concerned, is August. No, I don't love the scorching East Bay Area heat. But I do love the tomatoes, the glorious, sun-ripened, warm, sweet, misshapen globes of juicy multi-colored heirloom goodness. I love driving out to the family farm stand on the weekend and picking up a few pounds of tomatoes and then bringing them home and devouring them in a day or two, usually accompanied by some Hawaiian red sea salt & freshly ground pepper, a little extra-virgin olive oil, a bit of fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of basil leaves from my backyard herb garden.
This week, I picked up a bunch of rainbow-colored tomatoes and last night I made a lovely golden-hued shrimp gazpacho. It was very simple, and required only a few minutes of cooking (for the shrimp). The resulting soup was a delight, pureed to a nearly-smooth texture, and studded with luscious, curling pink shrimp.
1/4 c plus 1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
4-5 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced (approximately baseball- or softball-sized tomatoes, any variety you like; I'm guessing it was about 2 lb tomatoes)
1/2 English cucumber, seeded & diced
1/2 c diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small jar roasted bell peppers, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 c chicken stock
salt & pepper
fresh basil for garnish (optional)
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add the shrimp. Season well with salt & pepper, and saute the shrimp just until they are opaque and curled up. Set shrimp aside to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the soup.
Add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, bell peppers, vinegar and chicken stock to a food processor, and puree until nearly smooth. With the processor running, drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil. Serve soup topped with the shrimp, and fresh basil, if desired.
Note: You could also add some Tabasco or other hot sauce for a little heat, if you prefer that, but if your tomatoes are fresh and ripe, you'll want to let their flavor take center stage. Also, most gazpacho recipes call for tomato juice, but I didn't have any on hand and my tomatoes were wonderfully juicy on their own, so I just added the chicken stock to provide a bit more liquid. You could substitute tomato juice and omit the shrimp for a lovely vegetarian soup.