Katherine’s Weekly Market Recipe: Silvestro’s “Italian” Gazpacho

New Tomato Lover, Keonte Murphy, with Kevin and Sheri Tuckey at the CHEW Farmer's Market in Anacostia

On Saturday, I demonstrated and gave free samples of my Fresh Tomato Salsa with Watermelon at the “Community Harvest for Education Ward 7,” a new Farmers Market in the middle of Anacostia, a beautiful part of the city with rolling hills, classic homes, huge, ancient trees, and some of the most lovely people you’ll ever meet. There, I had the pleasure of meeting Keonte, his family and others, who were amazed at how easy and delicious fresh, home-made salsa can be. Keonte and other children were especially delighted with the salsa, which confirmed my belief and experience that children do love vegetables, if they are prepared well and offered positively. Keonte, his Dad and others promised they’d make my salsa at home and bought plenty of the vine-ripe tomatoes abundant at the CHEW Market where I have the honor of volunteering periodically.

When I was young, one of my most vivid memories is the taste of my Grandmother’s vine-ripened tomatoes. I’ll never forget how soft, plump, sweet and deep red they were.  Definitely not today’s traveling kind.  They were the kind you picked and ate, still warm from the day’s sun.

The memory of these delectable treats makes tomato season my favorite time of year – for eating, that is. Nothing is as delicious as a vine-ripened, field-grown tomato, which, lucky for us, we can get from our local farmers at the Rose Park Farmers Market on Wednesdays, Burleith on Saturdays and Dupont Circle on Sundays.

Today is the 7th of  “Katherine’s Weekly Market Recipes,” all of which are designed to be delicious, easy, quick, family-friendly, nutritious (heart-healthy & diabetes-friendly), and to highlight produce found at our local Farmers Markets this week. At your Farmers Market, you’ll find produce picked at peak ripeness, which means maximum flavor, texture and nutrition. You’re also helping save the environment when you buy at your Farmers Market. Here’s how…

Silvestro’s Gazpacho
This recipe was provided to me by Burleith resident, and authentic Italian, Silvestro Conte.

Tomatoes, technically a fruit, are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and a powerful antioxidant called “lycopene,” which gives the tomato its red color. Lycopene in tomatoes may help prevent prostate cancer and heart disease.

Men who consumed 10 or more servings of tomato products a week had a 35% decrease in risk of prostate cancer relative to those who consumed 1.5 servings or fewer per week, according to a major Harvard study. This benefit is largely attributed to the pigment lycopene found in the tomatoes, a phytochemical or a beneficial plant compound. Lycopene can also be found in other red fruits such as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and guava. Lycopene is a potent scavenger of gene-damaging free radicals. Men with lycopene levels in the top 20% had a 46% decrease in risk of heart attack compared to those in the bottom 20%.

Apparently, each fruit and vegetable is a little factory of nutrients and chemicals called phytochemicals (“phyto” meaning plant in Greek). These chemicals end up in your body’s tissues, where they have potent disease-preventing and life-enhancing properties. The phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, when eaten whole, have antioxidant effects, stimulate the immune system, enhance cancer-fighting enzymes, positively influence hormone metabolism, and even have an antibacterial and antiviral effect. These important properties help reduce the incidence of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases of aging.

Serves 16+

Ingredients

6.5 lbs Vine Ripe Tomatoes, washed, cored and chopped, with skin and seeds
2 Green Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
4 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and chopped
4 Celery Stalks, Including leaves, chopped
4 lbs. Peeled and seeded Cucumbers, chopped
1 Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped
4 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar (more if you like it tart, but be careful)
6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (Optional)
Sprinkling of Cumin (Optional)

Instructions

After careful washing, cut all vegetables into chunks to make them easier to blend. Blend with a food processor or Hand Blender, until you have the consistency you enjoy. My friend, Silvestro likes it a little chunky (as do I).

Once blended, add the olive oil, the vinegar, and, if you wish, the salt, the black pepper, and the cumin. Silvestro says “Cumin is optional : I like that extra richer flavor it adds.” I’ve made this gazpacho without adding salt or pepper and it is delicious. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for later. If you want a denser product, add bread crumbs.

Makes one gallon of Gazpacho, about 2,000 calories for the entire pot. Divided into 16 servings, that’s 125 calories per serving… And if you don’t add salt, it contains 0 sodium!

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