Gazpacho made with Invincible Summer Farms Heirloom Tomatoes


I’m infatuated with Heirloom tomatoes. At the end of summer is when they begin to make their debut at farmers markets in all their miraculous glory; move over Beefsteak, you are a bore. The variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes is overwhelming and at times magical; blue tomatoes anyone?

Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms is the Tomato Whisperer, a walking encyclopedia when it comes to heirloom tomatoes and seed saving. I met Stephanie at a seed saving seminar she gave at the Hallockville Museum Farm and shortly thereafter a tasting of her pride and joy: 30 or so diverse tomatoes on stage for everyone to savor. As we tasted the heirlooms, Stephanie proudly and nervously watch us nibble on every tomato. The variety was staggering and the taste was sensational — BRAVA! 

My encore was a private tour of her farm that has 350 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and other nightshades like peppers, eggplants and potatoes. Scattered about was kale, sweet potatoes, okra and a variety of winter squash. All of which are grown for consumers and seed saving.

In recent years, I have noticed heirloom signage peppered along Sound Avenue. I have never fully understood what it meant for a plant to be classified as an heirloom. Stephanie broke it down into four parts:

  1. Commercial Heirlooms: Open-pollinated varieties that are more than 50 years in circulation.
  2. Created Heirlooms: Crossing two heirlooms or an heirloom and a hybrid and dehybridizing the resulting seeds for approximately 5-8 years to stabilize the desired characteristics.
  3. Family Heirlooms: Seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation.
  4. Mystery Heirlooms: Varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination of other heirloom varieties. 

“To be truly terrior on Long Island farmers should be saving their seeds”, says Stephanie.  If farmers started to save and produce their own seeds it will allow them to develop varieties suited for their individual farms and their own issues with insects and diseases.

Stephanie points to a native tomato called the Shinnecock Indian Currant. This is the smallest tomato I have ever seen, as sweet as a grape and a zillion times more flavorful than your mainstream Big Boy.

Wafting through the air was fennel pollen; the taste of one bud had enough licorice flavor to be categorized as breath freshener. 36 varieties of winter squash and melons were dispersed like land mines. 

Moreover, kale that Stephanie named Tough Mother Kale was scattered by birds that picked off an overwintered heap of kale seeds that sustained itself through the polar vortex. Now that is a seed I want to get my hands on. The who, what, when, where and why it is growing on the farm is cataloged by Stephanie and her team. “Everything has a story in the field”, says Stephanie.

Just this year, Stephanie started Salt of the Earth Seed Company with help from the Long Island Plant Initiative, the Long Island Seed Consortium, and business partners Cheryl Frey Richards and Kate Moriarty. They specialize in growing and selling rare heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables, herbs and flowers to local restaurants and the public. They hear feedback from chefs and customers, and then save the seeds from outstanding rare varieties that do well on the East End. “We want people to share our seeds and give it to other people and continue to improve it”, says Stephanie. 

As I walked between the rows of heirloom tomatoes, I thought an end of summer Gazpacho would be delightful. Stephanie sent me home with bags of tomatoes on one condition! That I make her a batch of gazpacho. If you are interested in getting a bushel of Invincible Summer Farms Heirloom tomatoes now is the time! They are offering Wholesale Saturdays—25lb boxes for $50— for the first three Saturdays in September, 10am – 2pm. Be sure to save your seeds

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of ripe yellow heirloom tomatoes; blanched, peeled, seeded and cored.
  • 2 hothouse cucumber; chopped, peeled and seeded
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped and seeded
  • ½ jalapeño; seeded, chopped and cut in half
  • 4 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Sea Salt or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of tabasco
  • Pepper to taste

Note: For Red Gazpacho: Substitute tomatoes and peppers for a red variety.

Directions

  1. In boiling water blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds; cut a cross hatch at the bottom of the tomato before inserting. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and then peel the skin off. Remove the cores and strain the seeds over a large bowl to save the juice. Place the tomato flesh in the bowl.
  2. Place half of the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, shallot, vinegar, olive oil, salt, tabasco and a pinch of pepper in a blender or food processor.
  3. Puree until the soup is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and place in a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. You can chill the soup in the refrigerator or have it at room temperature.

    Note: If you desire, garnish with chopped cucumber, avocado, and a drizzle of olive oil.



Long Island Wine Country's HARVEST is back on August 23

Harvest East End is back for its fifth year, celebrating Long Island's bounty of the land, sea and vines. For the first time ever, Dan’s Papers, LLC joins the Long Island Wine Council to produce the bucolic food and wine event, newly re-titled Dan's Harvest East End. For those of you who have not attended this vinous and edible gala this is your chance. Get ready to sip wines from 50 vineyards who will pour more than 2,000 bottles of current release wines and barrel samples and to taste 30 top regional chefs dishes from the East End's local waters and farms. The event honors New York Times’ food writer Florence Fabricant and acclaimed Long Island restauranteur Tom Schaudel. And once again, the master of ceremonies is famed sommelier and wine expert Joshua Wesson. This will be my third year attending and I cannot wait to sip, nibble and mingle. You can read about my evening at last years 4th Annual Harvest East End here. Hope to see you there.

Event Details

HARVEST 2014 will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 23, at the McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. The event will benefit the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation and Peconic Land Trust

The Vin-IP Experience Early Access 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; evening continues till 10 p.m.; $275 per person, $2,500 for a group of 10, or $3,000 for reserved seating for 10 and VIP signage Wine aficionados, collectors and connoisseurs can be not just VIPs but Vin-IPs at HARVEST. Come as individuals or a group and enjoy the Vin-IP space within The Festival Tasting which will include VIP seating. Enjoy an hour of private time with winemakers and chefs, a glass of sparkling wine upon arrival, premier parking and exclusive access to the Library Lounge, where older vintages and special selections of wine will be served. Vin-IP guests will also receive a special HARVEST gift bag and other perks. Click here to buy tickets.

The Festival Tasting (General Admission ticket level) 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.; $125 per person and at the door (if available). Join more than 40 local winemakers for current releases and barrel samples of their not-yet-released wines, and bid on large-format wines bottled just for HARVEST! Savor the locally sourced, seasonal dishes from more than 30 of the region’s finest chefs and food artisans. Click here to buy tickets.

HARVEST EAST END is a 501 (c)(3) charity and annual fundraiser organized by the Long Island Wine Council. This gracious event supports regional wine marketing efforts, and invests in the future of the region by giving to worthy charities that support and preserve our land and people now and for generations to come: Sponsorships may be tax-deductible, less the value of goods and services received. 

Linguini with Blue Crabs in Red Sauce

I have fond memories of midnight crabbing on the Quantuck Bay. This late night effort always meant a Sunday feast of my father’s linguini with blue crabs in red sauce.

He has been making this dish since I was a child, and it is the one time that we Lucianos, are all quiet around the table with sauce-splattered faces from sucking out the sweet meat.

You can read my What's in Season article, Crabbing at Midnight for Edible East End's, High Summer 2014 IssueIn the meantime, here is my father's recipe, happy slurping.

Linguini with Blue Crabs in Red Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen crabs, cleaned
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 4 12-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley
  • ⅓ cup sea salt for pasta water
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 2 pounds of dried linguini

Directions: Clean the crabs: 

  1. Stun live blue crab by placing in ice water for five minutes.
  2. Grasping crab by its legs and under the top shell spine, pry off the top shell using the shell’s spine for leverage. This instantly kills the crab.
  3. Flip crab over and remove the apron and rinse under cold water, removing entrails.
  4. Using thumb, twist off the mouthparts and remove spongy gills from both halves and rinse, set aside.

In a large stockpot sauté the garlic in olive oil over low heat for 5 minutes. Slowly heating the garlic infuses the garlic flavor into the oil; do not burn. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, stir for 2 minutes. Then add the red wine to loosen up the bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano and 1 tablespoon of sea salt and cracked black pepper, stir to incorporate. Add the crabs. (If the legs fall off during the cleaning process simply add them in.) Give the pot a gentle swirl. Simmer the sauce for two hours with the lid closed. Check frequently to make sure it is not boiling. If the sauce is watery, set the lid ajar while simmering. Fill a large pot with water 3 inches from the rim. Place the ⅓ cup of sea salt in the pot. Seasoning your pasta water with salt is extremely important. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook until the linguini is al dente. Take the crabs out of the sauce and place in a large bowl. Once the linguini is done, drain in a colander and place the pasta back in the pot it was cooking in. Add 4 cups of the red sauce to dress the pasta, add the parsley and toss. Place in a large serving bowl.

Tools and wear: Crab crackers, a table lined with newspapers and a bib will be necessary as you will be cracking, slurping and sucking. Serves: 8 (with possible leftovers)