Sunset

Tomato gardeners know. There comes a time in the season when the plants go bonkers pumping out the fruit, and you’ve got a choice: get cooking, or get composting. That’s where I am with my heirloom yellow tomato plant at home.

So I was especially happy to try chef Craig von Foerster’s zingy Thai yellow tomato gazpacho at the recent Carmel TomatoFest and honor him with the Sunset Gold award.

His soup is loaded with perfumey and spicy seasonings, crunchy vegetables, and most importantly, tomatoes! We’ve been enjoying it by the bowlful in our test kitchen, and I know what’s on the menu at my table this weekend.

Von Foerster is the executive chef at Sierra Mar restaurant at Post Ranch Inn located in the land of nirvana, Big Sur. Now I know that the definition of nirvana extends to tomatoes, too.

Thai yellow tomato gazpacho

SERVES 5 or 6 (makes 5 1/2 cups)

TIME 45 minutes, plus at least 2 1/2 hours to chill

Thanks to chef Craig Von Foerster of Sierra Mar restaurant at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California for his intensely flavored interpretation of the classic summer soup.

2 1/2 lbs. ripe yellow tomatoes, cored and quartered3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar5 kaffir lime leaves or 2 tsp. finely shredded lime zest2 stalks lemongrass, chopped1 cup peeled green or half-ripe papaya cut in 1/4-in. dice1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut in 1/4-in. dice1/4 cup minced red onion3 tbsp. fresh lime juice2 tbsp. minced fresh galangal or ginger1 tbsp. each finely chopped mint leaves and Thai basil or regular basil leaves1/2 to 1 tbsp. SrirachaThai or Vietnamese fish sauce or kosher salt

1. In a food processor, pulse 1/3 of tomatoes at a time until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, lime leaves, and lemongrass. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and stir into tomato mixture. Chill about 2 hours to blend flavors. Press mixture through a coarse strainer into another bowl and discard contents of strainer.

3. Stir remaining ingredients into tomato mixture, adding Sriracha and fish sauce to taste. Chill until cold and flavors are blended, at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.

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