Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I love gazpacho. What's not to love? It's cold and refreshing, has tons of flavor, is really healthy, and can be garnished to your heart's content. And it looks beautiful. I even like bad gazpacho - you know, where the texture isn't quite right or the balance of flavor is off.
Randy and I went to Spain for our honeymoon and I ate gazpacho every single day and sometimes twice a day. Lunch was always a bowl of the soup and a "tortilla" which is like a frittata made of eggs, potatoes, and onions. I looked forward to this lunch each and every day. It was always a little different depending on what town we were in, but always delicious. I often started dinner off with gazpacho instead of a salad because, after all, it is kind of a liquid salad, but oh so much better. Really cold, tangy from the tomatoes and sherry vinegar, sweet from the onion and cucumber, and all nice and crunchy.
As much as I love the soup itself, the garnishes really make it for me. Big toasted croutons are my favorite, but this time I also included diced avacado and hard boiled egg. It all just made a good thing that much better.
As our June gets off to a very wet start, I thought I would beckon summer with a Spanish menu. Along with the Gazpacho, I served a Vegetable Paella, Smoky Swiss Chard, and for the Dana Treat, a Vanilla Bean Flan.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
One of the best things about this recipe is that it is dead easy. Really all you are doing is chopping and mixing. It is a great do-ahead recipe because it can sit for up to two days in the refrigerator and needs no last-minute attention except for garnishing. To make great croutons, cut some good sourdough bread in to large (1 inch) cubes. Toss on a baking sheet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a good dose of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden brown. I don't drizzle my gazpacho with olive oil, but you certainly can!
3 ripe medium tomatoes, cored and seeded, cut in to 1/4 inch cubes
2 medium red bell peppers, cored and seeded, cut in to 1/4 inch cubes
1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut in to 1/4 inch cubes
2 large shallots, peeled and minced
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
5 cups tomato juice
1 tsp. Tabasco (optional)
Olive Oil (optional)
Combine tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, shallots, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pepper in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato juice and Tabasco. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve cold with garnishes of your choice.