Requirements: portable, serves a crowd, summery, refreshing, tasty, brunch appropriate.
In deciding what to bring to our Food52 staff potluck brunch this morning, my first instinct was something cold and refreshing because (1) the feast was outside in Central park and (2) the temperature was expected to climb to the 90s before noon. My mind immediately lept to gazpacho, the perfect summertime soup to cool your engines. But, is it brunch appropriate? The great thing about the time-honored meal that sits in limbo between breakfast and lunch is that almost anything goes. Which fosters endless possibilities in both sweet and savory realms. Yet, I didn't know how I felt about having my usual gazpacho recipe at 10 AM (...too savory) so I decided to switch it up with a sweeter base. Staying true to the traditional red color, I employed strawberries in place of tomatoes, with cucumber chiming in as a mild veggie component. Lime juice and green onions give it some tang, with pungent cilantro and spicy notes of cayenne pepper emerging from the depths. Sweet, savory, spicy, tangy, crisp, and seedy -- the textures and flavors of this soup are multi-dimensional in a way that allows each component to have its turn in the spotlight. But I really love how the texture of the strawberry seeds comes through at the end, reminding you of the fruit that has the starring role.
2 cups cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, then coarsely chopped
4 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 green onions, the root end and any dry tips cut off, then coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro
Combine all in food processor or blender. Texture should be slightly coarse. Best served cold; allow to refrigerate overnight for the flavors to enhance.
In an effort to provide a filling accompaniment for my gazpacho I turned to a more typical brunch fare: an egg frittata. A recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine for a Ricotta-Chive version provided a starting point for my own recipe, though I departed from her version to incorporate my own flair. I adopted the use of ricotta dollops, but replaced the chives with a blend of finely chopped green onions and cilantro. To the ingredient list I added pepitas and feta, sprinkling them over top of the frittata in the final minutes of baking. A simple roster of ingredients that melds beautifully and yields a delicious result. (Note: I made the frittata the night before and served it cold the next day -- it is tasty both hot out of the oven or as cold leftovers).
1 Tbsp olive oil
10 medium eggs
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1. Preheat oven to 425
2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, green onions and cilantro; season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat olive oil in a 10 inch cast iron (or ovenproof nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture and dollop ricotta over the top of the eggs.
4. Allow eggs to set for 2-3 minutes before transferring the skillet into the oven.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Pull the frittata from oven and sprinkle pepitas and feta over the top. Cook an additional 4-5 minutes or until eggs are set and pepitas are toasted.