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.
- olive oil spray or 2 tablespoons oil for brushing
- 1 pound tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/2 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2" thick rings (about 5 oz)
- 1 medium red bell pepper (about 8 oz)
- 1 large jalapeno pepper (about 3" long)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper
- lime wedges for garnish (optional)
- For rim and garnish:
- 4 lime wedges
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
Heat grill or grill pan. Grill is hot enough when when you can't hold your hand a few inches above it for more than 3 to 5 seconds. Mist or brush tomatoes and onions lightly with oil and place on grill.
Grill tomatoes and onions till softened and charred, about 90 seconds per side for tomatoes, 5 minutes per side for onions. Put aside and let cool.
Place bell pepper and jalapeno on grill as well, allowing skin to blister and turn black. Using tongs, turn frequently so that all skin is blackened, about 6 minutes.
Remove peppers from grill and place in paper bag. Let steam until cool enough to handle.
When peppers are cool, remove stems, seeds and blackened skin. Do not rinse under water to remove skin, as that will wash away the flavor.
Place tomatoes, onions, peppers, spices, cilantro and juices in blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 2 hours, then check seasoning. (Can be made one day ahead of time.)
To serve, mix kosher salt and chili powder on a plate. Wet glass rim with lime wedge and rotate glass in salt mixture to rim. Fill with Bloody Maria and garnish each glass with a lime wedge.