Gazpacho

This spring, when planting our vegetable garden we might have gone slightly overboard with the amount of tomato plants we put in the ground. Sixty tiny green spindles which were to eventually produce every colour and every shape within the tomato world. Each one carefully placed in a pile of sheep manure, before being soaked in some sparkling clean limestone well water. Seeing them grow in the warm spring sun was a joy.

This summer, I am pretty sure we’ve been consuming more tomato salads then in our entire lives combined. Not once though did we get tired of them. It really is true luxury to be able to go out in your back yard and pick tomatoes, warm from the sun, and pop them in your mouth. I am totally convinced everything tastes better this way. Home grown.

This fall, as the last of the abundance of tomatoes are ripening Bruno has filled our freezers with his delicious marinara tomato sauce. Quickly cooked tomatoes, carefully pureed, deseeded and skinned, along with a few garden grown green onions, hot peppers and basil.

Along with salads and sauces, a third way to fully enjoy fresh tomatoes is through a Gazpacho. This Spanish classic is always a winner. Beautiful to look at, fresh flavours straight from the garden, a nice kick and bright acidity makes it perfect. Really so simple. I usually serve mine slightly chunky – I like the texture but serving it smooth is fairly common as well. I will leave that decision up to you. Some consider it being more of a summer soup but I have to admit I like it equally as much in the fall, even though it’s served cold. There are loads of versions of Gazpacho online. All slightly different. This version is mine. Enjoy! 

Jens

900g ripe tomatoes

1/2 red onion

3 green onions

1 small red bell pepper

1 small green bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, 1/2 seeded

1 english cucumber, roughly seeded

1/2 cup plain tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves

100g stale white bread

1/3 cup olive oil

juice from 1 lime

3-4 olives, pitted

3 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

salt & pepper to taste

fresh basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade) for garnish

Place the bread in a bowl and fill with water. Make sure the bread is fully submerged. Set aside for 15-20 min.

Roughly cut the tomatoes, onions, peppers and cucumber into chunks. Add to a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients. Break the bread up in smaller pieces and add as well.

Process until preferred texture is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge for at least an hour, ideally over night for flavours to develop.

Serve cold in a glass or a bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.

Vegetarian Lasagna

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bestvegetarianlasagna3A few nights ago we had some friends over for dinner. One of the guests was a vegetarian and the other ones loves meat.  It was a pretty cold and chilly night, so I thought lasagna would be lovely. To please everyone around the table I decided to split things up. Instead of your traditional meat lasagna, I made this vegetarian version filled with mushrooms, spinach, ginger and nutmeg. For the meat lovers I slow cooked a beautiful prime rib in red wine, beef stock, a couple of chopped onions and carrots along with a few bay leaves. The lasagna itself however, is filling enough and is perfect as a meal on its own.

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Filling:

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp truffle oil

One medium size fennel

Fresh ginger, about a 2″ piece

4 cloves of garlic

15 sage leaves

200g shiitake mushrooms 

200g crimini mushrooms

4 baby bok choy

350g fresh spinach

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1-2 tsp sambal oelek (hot chili paste)

pinch of tarragon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Béchamel Sauce:

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

3 cups milk

White pepper

Salt

3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups grated gruyère cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Thinly slice the fennel and finely chop the ginger, garlic, sage leaves and mushrooms. Roughly chop the book choy. In a large cast iron pot, heat up the truffle oil until hot but not burning. Turn the heat down slightly and add the fennel and ginger. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic sage and mushrooms. Sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bok choy to the pot along with the spinach and the rest of the ingredients. Make sure everything is well combined, and let it simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Turn the heat off and let cool.

Béchamel:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sized sauce pan. When melted, lower the temperature and start adding the flour. Whisk constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the butter/flour for a couple of minutes, whisking non stop. Add the milk, a little bit at a time. Keep stirring! Raise the temperature back to medium. As the sauce thickens add more milk. The sauce is ready when coating the back of a spoon. Season with salt & pepper.

In a large oven proof dish, start putting the lasagna together. Coat the bottom of the dish with the béchamel, cover with sheets of pasta and sprinkle some of the vegetable filling on top. Drizzle béchamel over filling. Repeat layers twice. Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the third vegetable layer before putting down one last layer of pasta. Sprinkle the cheese. Cover with the rest of the béchamel sauce. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for 45-60 min, or until golden brown and pasta is soft.

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