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.



Heirloom Tomato Summer Tart

At the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, tomato varieties have been making their debut amongst the strawberries, cherries and sugar snap peas at a few farm stands such as S&SO Farm—heirlooms, Eckerton Hill Farm—sungolds and Phillips Farm—greenhouse beefsteak tomatoes.

 

Summer is only a week old and I could not keep myself from the first of the farm stand tomatoes. What better way to welcome summer and this juicy delight than with an heirloom tomato summer tart; a savory crust filled with ricotta cheese, topped with tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil and infused with basil. I prefer the heirloom cherry tomatoes for their size and vibrant color. The pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry) complements the sweetness of the tomatoes and the creamy ricotta cheese. The pâte brisée recipe is the same shortcrust pastry that was used for my duck confit tart and if you would like to try your hand at making ricotta cheese, you can find my recipe here.

 

Heirloom Tomato Summer Tart Recipe

 

Pâte Brisée (shortcrust)

ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of ice water
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano for grating on to tart after pre-baked.

 directions

  1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine.
  2. Cut up the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about the size of garbanzo beans. Pulse about about 10 seconds.
  3. Add the ice water slowly through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. The dough should be visibly crumbly where you can pinch the dough between your fingers and should hold. You are not looking for a ball state here.
  4. Remove the crumbly mixture from the processor and place on a smooth surface. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together.  Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, flatten each portion into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax. At this point you can also freeze the dough for later use.  
  6. For each disk of pastry, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to fit into your preferred tart pan size. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll. To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than your pan.
  7. Lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin and unroll onto the top of your tart pan. Gently lay in pan and lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry dough.
  8. To prebake the tart 

  9. With the tines of a fork, prick the bottom of the dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.
  10. Preheat oven to 400° and place rack in center of oven. Line the unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper and fill the tart pan with pie weights or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for about 20 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly browned. Remove tarts from the oven; take out the pie weight and then grate Parmigiano-Reggianno on to the bottom of the tart so it is fully covered.
  11. Place tarts back in oven for 5 minutes to melt the Parmigiano-Reggianno, then remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes two, 9-inch tart shells or six, 4-inch round tartlets. 

Filling for Tart

ingredients

  • 1 quart of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of pignoli nuts
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese; room temperature  
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, roughly chopped

directions

  1. Over medium heat, toast the pignoli nuts until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove from heat to cool and set-aside for the tomato mixture.
  2. In a bowl place the ricotta, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, pepper and scallions. Mix ingredients together and let sit.
  3. In a bowl place the tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, basil and lemon juice.  Fold together and marinate for 30 minutes. Gently fold in pignoli nuts before you are ready to assemble.

note: you can prepare the ricotta mixture a day before, however it should be at room temperature before assembling.

Assembly

Fill each tart with the ricotta mixture up to the edge of the crust. Then carefully place the tomato mixture on top. Immediately serve at room temperature.