Enjoy these last few weeks of summer with a big bowl of chilled Gazpacho made with fresh picked, vine ripened tomatoes. Recipes for three different and unique flavor variations of gazpacho are included!
I wrote a little (very short) poem. Wanna hear it? Here it goes…
Ode to Gazpacho
Roses are red, so is Gazpacho.
I can’t believe I like it so macho.
Okay, I realize it should be mucho but that doesn’t rhyme as well…
The most unbelievable gazpacho I ever tasted was in Spain. It wasn’t my first introduction to this chilled tomato soup, but it was definitely the most memorable. I had it on our once-in-a-lifetime Mediterranean adverture. I remember it vividly, just like it was yesterday. J and I were sitting at an outdoor cafe on Las Rambla in Barcelona, basking in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. We were loving the uber relaxing environment in this beautiful city, as we sipped on sangria and enjoyed the most mind blowing tasty gazpacho. It was absolute perfection…then two older gentlemen who happened to be totally naked strolled right by us…wearing only sneakers, man purses, and smiles 😃
I’m not kidding. I mean, you can’t even make this kind of stuff up! After our initial shock, we just shrugged it off and cheered our glasses of sangria to the wonderfully non-judgemental, laid-back European lifestyle. Like I said…perfection.
Anyway, back to the soup at hand. Gazpacho is a dish full of contradictions. It’s light but it eats hearty. It’s delicate but is full of robust flavors. It’s simple but the ingredients meld together to create great complexities. It’s a soup…and it’s cold!
Each week my CSA organic vegetable share is overflowing with the best, fresh picked, deliciously ripe veggies. And each week I look forward to picking out the biggest, juiciest tomatoes and the tastiest cucumbers until I’ve eaten them in every dish possible and I’ve run out of recipe ideas. Gazpacho is my go-to recipe when I want something light, easy, quick and healthy. It’s also a huge savior when you need to use up that huge bushel of tomatoes and cucumbers during this time of year.
Gazpacho shouldn’t be made with canned tomatoes or even store bought tomatoes if you can help it. It is much better with fresh picked tomatoes that were fully ripened on the vine. It’s such a simple dish where the flavor is best showcased using only the best in-season ingredients.
Recipes for gazpacho seem to originate from more personal perspective. Gazpacho is also very flexible. It can be made in many different ways and you can utilize a variety of vegetables and experiment based on one’s personal preference.
To that point, I’ve experimented and this recipe is the variation I like the best. Sometimes I add a little bit of the sweeter tasting red pepper in place of the typical green pepper and I never ever add onions. To me, onions add too much of a peppery bite and can sometimes overpower the delicate flavor of the soup. When I eat gazpacho, I like for my palette to be able to identify the distinctive flavor of each vegetable. The last few years, I’ve also started double blanching the fresh garlic cloves in my recipe. That was a tip I picked up several years ago after reading about the gazpacho from the famed Spanish (former) restaurant, elBulli. Blanching the cloves reduces the harsh taste that fresh garlic an sometimes have and it mellows the flavor.
Here are some gazpacho flavor variations to try:
- Mexican- Add fresh chopped cilantro, minced jalapeños, cumin, and fresh squeezed lime. Top with a spoonful of sour cream and diced avocado.
- Italian- Add fresh chopped basil and balsamic vinegar. Top with diced cooked pancetta, diced fresh mozzarella, and homemade garlic croutons.
- Greek- Add fresh oregano, red wine vinegar, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Top with a little plain Greek yogurt, crumbled feta cheese and diced kalamata olives.
However you make it, enjoy these last few weeks of summer by making a big batch of Gazpacho. I’m sure you will like it very macho😃
- 2½ pounds of fresh vine ripened tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 cup of bread cubes, use a white bread with lots of flavor like a french or country loaf
- 1 fresh cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 clove of garlic, blanched in boiling water
- 2 tsp sherry vinegar (or use red wine vinegar)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes: finely minced cucumber, tomato, and hard boiled egg
- **NOTE: can leave out bread for a gluten free/grain free option**
- Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 15mins, then squeeze out all the water from the bread. Discard the water and place the soaked bread back into the large bowl or in a stand up blender.
- Add the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, and sherry vinegar to the bread. Using an immersion handheld blender or a stand up blender, process the ingredients until smooth. Slowly pour in the olive oil, while the blender is still on, until mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover the gazpacho and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours for the flavors to meld together. Serve chilled with optional garnishes.