The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

July 19, 2013

COOKING WITH SIMON: Fruits of labor – tomatoes vs. grapes

Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Lately I have been talking about how many grapes I have in the vineyard, but over the past week I’ve also had a lot of tomatoes.

Yes, tomatoes. I have planted tomatoes in the spots where I lost a few vines because of the 2011 drought. Since the irrigation is already in place, it made sense to plant some vegetables. So here I am with an abundance of tomatoes – a great problem to have.

Last year the tomatoes I planted didn’t do very well, but I think the cooler nights have made this year’s crop better. The tomato variety has also made a difference. Some types of tomatoes are doing very well and others look haggard and the blooms never set. I will have to make note of the varieties that thrive in the vineyard soil for next year’s garden.

It’s always a challenge to grow any type of plant. A green thumb really has nothing to do with it. It’s all about climate, temperature, water, soil, insects, and who knows what else.

With the grapes in the vineyard I’ve fought black spot, caterpillars, mold, drought, worms, grasshoppers, random bugs and deer, deer and lots of deer. Oh by the way, did I mention the deer? And now that the grapes are getting sweet, watch out for the birds.

It’s taken a lot of nurturing and attention, but the vines have survived and with great excitement we are finally going to harvest the fruits of our labor.

So you have to come out to the Grape Stomp Celebration on July 27. If you’ve been wondering about Sabor a Pasion and waiting to come out, now is the time.

Come out and see what it is all about. It will be a great week of celebration that we want to share with everyone. After three years of growing and praying and walking outside everyday to see how the vines look it is finally time to harvest grapes.

But for now – actually today – I am harvesting tomatoes.

So this week’s recipe is gazpacho. A chilled tomato soup that is great in the summer months. It’s cool, refreshing and a wonderful way to take advantage of fresh ingredients.

Hope to see you at the Grape Stomp on July 27. Go to for more details or call me at 903-729-9500. Advance tickets are also available at Texas Art Depot.

Tomato Gazpacho


4 large homegrown tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 cups V-8 juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup celery, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup cucumber, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cilantro, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Chill for eight hours. Stir again. Spoon into small serving bowls or mugs. Garnish with garlic toast. Serves 4 to 6 depending on the size of the bowl.


Simon Webster is the Executive Chef of Sabor a Pasion Country House & Bistro a multi-faceted dining destination just outside Palestine. For more information go to or call 903-729-9500.