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Zero Proof: Virgin Grilled-Tomato Bloody Maria

[Photo: Christianne Winthrop]

Barbecues and beaches certainly are fun, but for me, summer can't start until the tomatoes arrive. You can find fruits that look like tomatoes year-round, but I'd rather go without than bite into one of those plastic-tasting lookalikes. I want a tomato that smells like a tomato, whose juices run down my chin when I bite into it. And then I want that tomato mixed into every item at every meal so that I can—quite literally—drink it all in. Those tomatoes I've been waiting for, the ones grown locally and not shipped in from some far off place, finally showed up this week where I live.

This non-alcoholic Bloody Maria is perfect for those lazy Sundays when you want to spend every minute outside. Stay at your grill and toss the tomatoes, peppers, and onions alongside your burgers, making sure they get a nice char. Yes, you will have to venture inside to blend it all together, but it really won't take long. The spices are minimal, but don't skip them—the cumin adds to the hint of smoke from grill. I used a red bell pepper to maintain a good bloody color, but if you don't mind your drink looking a little murky, a pasilla or Anaheim pepper would work just as well and add some additional spiciness should you find your jalapeno lacking.

Then, back to the hammock.

About the author: Christianne Winthrop is a freelance food writer, caterer and culinary instructor. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Bob and their beta fish, Hercules.

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