8.23.2012

Simply Gazpacho



It's an unwritten adage: When August gives you ripe tomatoes, make gazpacho. The raw, chilled soup has become the quintessential celebration of summer produce at its freshest. It's incredibly easy, can be whipped up sans stove, and doesn't require a ton of ingredients because the select few it includes are just that good -- (and be sure to use the best). Even more appealing is that you don't have to follow directions exactly; the recipe is more like a sketch -- and one that invites coloring outside the lines. 

Despite the fact that it can be made differently every time, tradition holds gazpacho to a few basic essentials: tomatoes (the ripest you can procure), cucumber (or zucchini), onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar...and a blender. Sometimes bread is added, sometimes not. Sometimes a hot chile, or a bell pepper, or an earthy herb like cilantro or basil. It's infinitely variable -- you could even use fruit like grape or melon -- but here I channeled the classic version. Simple and bursting with tomato-y flavor, it's bulked up with rustic bread -- both in the soup and on top as crunchy homemade croutons. Diced avocado and shavings of manchego add subtle creamy notes that balance the fresh vibrancy of the soup. Whatever you do, serve it super cold; there's nothing that tastes more refreshing in this August heat. [Note: It's even better the next day, after the flavors have had time to chill and mingle]. 


GAZPACHO WITH HOMEMADE CROUTONS
[Adapted from Rebecca Meeker, Chef de Cuisine at Congress]

3 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 slices rustic country bread, crust removed and cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, cubed bread, olive oil, vinegar and 1 tsp sea salt. Use your hands to crush the ingredients together. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least an hour. 

Remove gazpacho from the fridge, transfer to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you want to give it heat, add some tabasco sauce -- a little at a time -- stirring and adjusting flavor as preferred. Chill again. 

To make homemade croutons: roughly cube another slice or two of bread (adjust depending on how many croutons you want). Heat a skillet over medium, add olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When hot, add cubed bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy on all sides (about 6 to 8 minutes). Serve over chilled gazpacho with diced avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly grated manchego cheese. 

9 comments:

  1. This is my kind of gazpacho. Beautiful!

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  2. How many servings does this make?

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    Replies
    1. Andrea, I'd say about 4 to 6.

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  3. The most enticing and simple gazpacho I have seen. Love the ingredients and can't wait to try it. And, congrats on being a Saveur finalist. Great site!

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  4. I need to make this immediately! Your photographs constantly make me salivate

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  5. So pretty! Can't wait until tomatoes are in season to make this. Sarah

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  6. this looks too delicious! the colours are so beautiful!!

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  7. Can(t wait for summer!

    http://www.aboutfoood.blogspot.com

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