There are as many recipes for gazpacho as there are cooks. I love my version and hope you will, too.

Or use my recipe to inspire one of your own.

Either way, don’t miss enjoying gazpacho with all the delicious fresh vegetables we have now.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad can benefit from your personal touches as well. Sliced mushrooms, and drained and rinsed chickpeas come to mind. Marinate the artichokes yourself, save money and get a better product.

Marie Nichols gave me the pound cake recipe with strict instructions to “just make it like the recipe is written before you go fiddlin’ with it.” You do not add the extra 3 ounces to the cake mix like we’ve been having to do. She also said she had made the recipe using a variety of mixes. I tried white cake mix and coconut instant pudding mix, added two teaspoons of coconut extract to the batter and served the cake drizzled with chocolate sauce over each serving.

Yes, that’s good too.

Gazpacho

1/2 each red, yellow and green bell peppers, finely diced

2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded, deveined and finely diced

1-2 garlic gloves grated

1-2 teaspoons olive oil

Several dashes Worcestershire sauce

Several dashes balsamic vinegar

1-2 teaspoons ground cumin

Juice of one lime

4-6 large basil leaves, finely chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and finely diced

3 ribs celery, finely diced

1 medium summer squash, finely diced

1 medium zucchini, finely diced

2 ripe avocados, finely diced

V-8 juice (original or spicy hot)

Combine all ingredients, adjusting quantities to your taste. Chill before serving.

Cook’s note: Use a food processor or blender if desired.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

1 cup orzo, cooked according to package directions. Rinse in cold water, drain and set aside.

3-4 cups salad greens of your choice

1/2 cup chopped dried tomatoes, packed in oil

3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

Do not drain.

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Grilled or rotisserie chicken, shredded

Combine olives, tomatoes, onions and artichokes. Add orzo. Toss with greens. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with feta and chicken. Serve immediately.

Marinated Artichokes

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke heart quarters, undrained

In a jar, shake lemon juice, oil and seasonings to mix well. Add artichokes and shake gently until well coated. Refrigerate several hours before using.

Lemon Pound Cake

1 lemon cake mix

1 (3.4 ounce) lemon flavored Jello instant pudding mix

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan with Pam for baking. Combine all ingredients. With an electric mixer, beat two minutes. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes. Whilst the cake is hot, poke many, many holes in the cake with a skewer.

Pour lemon sauce over the cake. Cool in the pan.

For the lemon sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Heat butter and lemon juice to boiling in the microwave. Stir in powdered and sugar until smooth. Pour over cake.

Miss Olivia Sipe is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

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