I recently received a treasure trove of recipes from my brother, the chef. It includes menus and recipes from our family restaurant, The Treehouse, a fine-dining favorite in Eugene from 1978 – 1998. I’m super excited to dive in over the next several months to compile them into a book adapted for the home cook. Of course, I’ll share some favorites here as I go.
This gazpacho recipe jumped right out to me as the perfect way to begin the project. I have fond memories of this cold, refreshing soup bursting with late summer vegetables and herbs, and it was oh-so-satisfying to revisit. The tarragon threw me for a minute because it’s neither a personal favorite nor an herb I expected to be in this recipe. Of course, it works beautifully despite my skepticism, and once I finished, the flavors took me right back to the Treehouse kitchen.
Use vegetables you have on-hand. If you want to add or substitute cucumbers or cruciferous veggies like broccoli or kale, the result should be lovely as long as the cold tomato broth and seasonings are consistent. At the restaurant, we diced all the vegetables by hand, and I followed suit here to achieve a clean look and crunchy texture. If you prefer, feel free to use a food processor or blender.
Enjoy this summer soup du jour! It’s great with Grandma’s Rolls, of course.
Chilled Gazpacho, Chef Billy Style
(makes about 12 servings)
4 ribs of celery
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
12 large Roma tomatoes, chopped (or 36 grape tomatoes)
3 – 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
46 ounces low-sodium tomato juice, chilled
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 dashes Tabasco hot sauce (or your favorite)
salt and black pepper to taste
radish and chives or green onion for garnish
Prepare the vegetables by cleaning, trimming the ends, and peeling as necessary. Then chop each in small dice (1/4-inch square). Try to keep them all the same size, but don’t make yourself crazy. Place them all in a large bowl.
*Use a food processor or blender if you aren’t up to all the chopping. The appearance will be slightly cloudy but the taste will still be great.
Squeeze one or two lemons to yield 1/2 cup of juice. Chop garlic and chop fresh herbs if necessary.
Add garlic, herbs, tomato juice, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper. Stir and taste. Add more hot sauce, salt, and/or pepper as needed.
Chill for at least an hour before you garnish and serve. It’s best after 24 hours, still crunchy but the flavors are nicely married. It should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Ain’t that the truth… Stay well my friends.
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.