It’s tomato time!

photo credit: David Elkin

My favorite time of the year in the garden is tomato time. The promise of home grown tomatoes is, in fact, the major reason I became involved in the garden. Yes, I am enough of a kid at heart to experience a thrill every time I harvest carrots and other root vegetables. I like the mystery of wondering how big they are beneath the soil. And despite my husband’s loathing, I love the summer okra, too. But hands down, tomatoes are my favorite!

photo by David Elkin

This year our tomatoes were babied with hand watering every day by Jim Sowers so we have a bumper crop. By the time this goes to print the harvest may be winding down in our garden, but you should still be able to find some home grown tomatoes at the farmers’ markets. Other than sliced and garnished with a drizzle of good Spanish olive oil and a little salt, my favorite way to enjoy my favorite tomatoes is to make gazpacho from them. I’m sharing my family’s favorite gazpacho recipe from the August 2002 issue of Gourmet magazine. Splurge on some good serrano and manchego to accompany the soup for an easy and refreshing meal during the dog days of July.




    • 1 (2-inch-long) piece baguette, crust disca

      photo by David Elkin


    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably “reserva”), or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
    • 2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
    • 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
    • Garnish: finely chopped red and green bell peppers



    • Soak bread in 1/2 cup water 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.
    • Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend garlic paste, bread, 2 tablespoons vinegar, sugar, cumin, and half of tomatoes in a food processor until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add remaining tomatoes with motor running and, when very finely chopped, gradually add oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.
    • Force so
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