Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gazpacho



It's hot in Spain in the summer. Especially in the south where you're a stone's throw from Africa, it's really really hot. It's no mystery then why light, refreshing, cool foods that involve no cooking and no heat are traditional. So, if you: A) like delicious food, B) are getting into raw food, C) live somewhere warm, or D) need a few servings of veggies, meet my friend Gazpacho!*

Scroll to the end for more photos from Spain...



Last summer my mother and I went to Andalucía, the southernmost province of Spain. We had a grand old time eating our way through Córdoba, Sevilla, Granada, and Madrid. (I won't go into how madly and deeply in love I fell with Granada.) One thing in particular that we ate a lot of was gazpacho. My gazpacho includes lots of seasonal, fresh, diced veggies. Most of the gazpacho we ate in Spain was really salmorejo, gazpacho's simpler, thicker, creamier cousin made of nothing more than blended tomatoes, bread, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Tomorrow's project!

My Gazpacho uses lots of in-season, local veggies. Blending softened bread into the base makes it thick and creamy... a great contrast to all the crunchy, bright veggies. It's flavorful, refreshing, light, and delicious - the perfect summer meal!

Ingredients:
17 fluid ounces jarred tomato juice
1 large slice good, crusty bread (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 ribs celery
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 cucumber
1/2 red onion
2 large tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt
Cilantro


















Preparation:

1. Tear the bread into chunks and soak it in water for a few minutes.
2. In the blender, whirl the bread, tomato juice, garlic, chili pepper, olive oil, and vinegar until smooth.
3. Get out your knife! Dice the celery, peppers, cucumber, onion, and tomatoes (seeds removed) and mix them into the blended gazpacho base.
4. Season with salt. Devour immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, mango, sweet corn... your imagination is the limit! In the spirit of Spain, melon and red wine for dessert!


















* Uncontrollably curious about the etymology of the word "gazpacho"? I was! (No surprise there...)
Not even the RAE (Real Academia Española... my guru, oracle, etc.) knows exactly where it came from. That, folks, is an official mystery.

gazpacho. (Quizá del ár. hisp.) cepillo de la iglesia, por alus. a la diversidad de su contenido, ya que en él se depositaban con limosna monedas, mendrugos y otros objetos). m. 1. Género de sopa fría que se hace regularmente con pedazos de pan y con aceite, vinagre, sal, ajo, cebolla y otros aditamentos. 2. Especie de migas que las gentes del campo hacen de la torta cocida en el rescoldo o entre las brasas.











4 comments:

  1. Fun post, nice pictures, I'm sure the gaz is great. I am curious, though -- why did you choose a style of gaz which from what I have read (I researched gaz a few weeks ago, and made a batch that was truly delicious) most gaz in spain does not use liquid really other than possibly ice cubes or water (to soak the bread and to add to soup if needed)?

    It seemed that in most of the recipes that *seemed* authentic, the tomato and cucumber were seived and as such were the source of liquid. And then the soup would/could be garnished with yet more tomato or cucumber or other items.

    It certainly is delicious this way -- and is less like "tomato juice with veggies", which is what most gaz at American restaurants seems like to me.

    Peter

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  2. What beautiful gazpacho! I've never heard of blending in bread--what a great idea!

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  4. Thanks for the comments, Peter and Jes!

    Jes - Yes, the bread is a neat trick! It gives the gazpacho body and a thick, creaminess without any of the heaviness of cream. Love that!

    Peter - Good questions. I mentioned briefly in the post that we ate a lot of the "salmorejo" style gazpacho in Andalucía which I believe is the style you were referring to. The textured style I made is also authentic. The etymology of Gazpacho from the Real Academia Española says that one of the meanings is a church collection plate into which people would donate various items. The thinking goes that gazpacho (soup) got its name from this hodgepodge of vegetables and ingredients, sort of like the American "Stone Soup" story. I decided to make this version because I wanted to pack in as many fresh, seasonal veggies as I could and make a meal out of it. I also really like the contrast in textures between the creamy base and crunchy vegetables. I used a good bottled organic tomato juice simply because it's less labor intensive than food milling or pressing my own.

    Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading!
    Anna

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