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Gazpacho

July 19, 2010

Gazpacho is a perfect answer to the ridiculously hot and humid summer we’ve been having.  It doesn’t require any standing over a hot stove or heating up the oven, and it’s served cold.  All the ingredients are in season right now, which also means it’s cheap to make!  Here’s all you need (plus olive oil, salt and a slice of bread):

It’s that simple!

When I studied in Spain, the family that I lived with would make this all the time.  They would dump the chopped up veggies in a bowl, add in olive oil, salt and sugar, and puree it with an immersion blender.  And that was it!  When I originally saw this recipe for gazpacho in Cook’s Illustrated, my first reaction was “Jeez that’s a lot more work than it should be… veto,” but then Nate saw it and decided to make it himself.  As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, this gazpacho totally knocked my socks off.  I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was, and it’s become something of a summer staple in our apartment.

One thing I learned when I lived in Spain is the importance of sugar in tomato-based dishes like gazpacho.  Just a teaspoon really helps to cut the acidity and melds the flavors together.  Another thing I should probably mention is that the recipe calls for a serrano chile and I substituted it with a jalapeno (seeds included).  Unless you like really spicy things, do not do this!  In retrospect, I should have taken out the seeds and added in more jalapeno later if it wasn’t spicy enough… you can add spice in, but you can’t take it out.  Oops!  Luckily a spoonful of plain yogurt helps cut the spiciness without messing up the flavor. 

Creamy Gazpacho

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

A lot of the steps in this recipe are optional it all depends on how you like your gazpacho.  You don’t need to put the pureed veggies through a fine mesh strainer (and next time I probably won’t) because it’s time-consuming to get out all the liquid and I like the texture.  You also don’t need to add in diced veggies after you’ve pureed it unless you’re looking for a textural contrast with the puree and vegetable chunks.  In Spain, we always drank our gazpacho in coffee mugs, rather than using bowls and spoons; feel free to play around with the recipe. 

3 pounds (about 6 medium) ripe tomatoes , cored
1 small cucumber , peeled, halved, and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper , halved, cored and seeded
1 small red onion , peeled and halved
2 medium garlic cloves , peeled and quartered
1 small serrano chile , stemmed and halved lengthwise
  Kosher salt

1 tsp sugar 

1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread , crust removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar , plus extra for serving (see note)
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley , chives, or basil leaves
  Ground black pepper

Roughly chop 2 pounds of tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and half of onion and place in large bowl. Add garlic, chile, sugar, and 1½ teaspoons salt; toss until well combined. Set aside.

Cut remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into ¼-inch dice; place vegetables in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetables. Toss with ½ teaspoon salt and transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.

Transfer drained diced vegetables to medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about ¼ cup) and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

Transfer half of vegetable-bread mixture to blender and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in ¼ cup oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer. Repeat with remaining vegetable-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Stir vinegar, minced herb, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours to chill completely and develop flavors. Serve, passing remaining diced vegetables, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and black pepper separately.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2011 5:26 am

    Made this and am linking to you in my post. Thanks for the tip!

  2. tasteofbeirut permalink
    July 14, 2011 6:36 am

    Sounds delicious! I have made a Lebanese gaspacho twice, but never the real thing! Very tempting, as this heat is unbelievable. Perfect meal.

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