Gazpacho

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Serves 6 – recipe courtesy Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein with Maura Webber, from America’s Small Farms, Villard, 2003

* 9 large vine-ripened tomatoes
* 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
* 1 medium red onion, chopped
* 1 bell pepper, chopped
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
* 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
* Salt and freshly milled black pepper
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, cilantro, or parsley (optional)

Core the tomatoes and dip into boiling water for about 10 seconds to loosen the skin. Place the tomatoes in ice water to cool, then slip off their skins. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 crosswise and squeeze out the juice and seeds into a strainer over a bowl. Reserve the juice and discard the seeds. Puree 1/2 of the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Coarsely chop the remaining tomatoes.

Combine the pureed and chopped tomatoes in a bowl and add the reserved juice. Stir in the cucumbers, red onion, bell pepper, oil, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeno peppers. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Divide gazpacho among 6 serving bowls. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the bowls for garnish, if desired.