This dish has an inspirational history that winds from a country club in Nashville, Tennessee, to my friend Charlotte Moss’s garden. Years ago, I wrote a piece in the New York Times Magazine about the “frozen tomato,” an almost freakishly delicious tomato sherbet of a sort served at the Belle Meade Country Club, where my grandparents were members. Nora Ephron saw the recipe and wrote me a lovely, funny (of course) letter reporting that she’d added the frozen tomato to her heirloom tomato salad plate and that it was a huge hit at her Hamptons table. When Nora died, I decided to create a slightly less garish version (one without red food coloring or shredded pineapple—don’t ask!) as a centerpiece to a tomato salad inspired by her, and then I included it in a Wall Street Journal column. Charlotte saw that recipe, made it for a dinner party, and very sweetly wrote about it in her blog—adding that she plopped scoops of the leftover tomato sherbet into bowls of gazpacho at lunch the next day. I tried the same thing almost immediately, and it turns out to be an inspired idea. It is an amazingly refreshing dish for a hot day. And I am grateful to both women for leading me to it.
3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black
Basil sprigs for garnish
Tomato Sherbet (recipe follows) for garnish
Place the cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers in the bowl of a food processor and add the lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Process until just blended and still slightly chunky. Pour into a large bowl or soup tureen and stir in the garlic, parsley, salt, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 but not more than 8 hours.
When ready to serve, pour the gazpacho into six bowls and top with a scoop of tomato sherbet and a basil sprig.
NOTE: I am generally an onion fanatic, but I like the simplicity and sweetness of this soup without the onion just this once. The acidic balance is pretty close to perfect, but if you must, you can add 1 small sweet onion, coarsely chopped, to the mix before processing.
Serves 6 as a garnish
3 cups chopped, peeled, and seeded tomatoes
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, plus more for the tomatoes
Freshly ground white pepper 1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1⁄2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins
Put the tomatoes in a heavy- bottomed saucepan and season them with a healthy pinch of salt and a few lashings of white pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the tomatoes to a blender or the bowl of a food processor and puree. Place 2 1⁄2 cups of the puree in a medium bowl and chill in the freezer until ice-cold but not frozen. Return to the blender or food processor and add the remaining puree, the mayonnaise, cream, remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, the cayenne, lemon juice, and Worcester- shire sauce and blend thoroughly. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
NOTE: You may need to finish the sherbet off in the freezer for an hour or so, or until the mixture is hard enough to make a solid scoop.
Recipe excerpted from Julia Reed’s South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long by Julia Reed (Rizzoli New York). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Paul Costello.