Monday, July 5, 2010

The Gazpacho Chronicles

Some foods are so seasonally dependent that they seem to vanish from our consciousness when the weather turns. While you can find ingredients in a supermarket any time of year, it’s hard to appreciate the full impact and flavor of cold soup on a wintry day, just as a hearty beef stew eaten under the blazing sun sounds downright painful.

Gazpacho demands fresh, vine-ripened ingredients - the kind you can only get from a garden, farmer’s market, or local produce section of grocery store. It should be eaten cold, on a hot, hot day. Traditional recipes are tomoato-based, but there are many modern versions that substitute watermelon, avocado, cucumber, and even cauliflower.

While we wait for the main thrust of our crop to ripen, we’ve created a veritable kitchen sink of options, each tastier than the last. We like a hint of sweetness to balance the acid tomatoes, with a touch of fire and salt for the ultimate kick. Because we only have a few ripe tomatoes on our vines, we’ve combined tomatillos, watermelon, peaches, and other farmer’s market finds to make up the difference. Normally, we like to add a bit of jalapeno, but Juniorette is increasingly sensitive to spice, so we use an Anaheim or other mild pepper. Here are our latest experiments:

Northern Virginia Gardener Gazpacho

Three vine-ripened tomatoes
Handful of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
handful of cilantro
1 cucumber
1 onion
1 Anaheim pepper
2 c. fresh watermelon or 1 ripe peach
1/3 c. olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Blend well, chill, and enjoy!

White Gazpacho, by Joy Manning

1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 slices of crustless white bread
1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds
1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and drain well.
In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of cold water with the cooked cauliflower, bread, pine nuts, chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot, 1 cup of the slivered almonds and the coarsely chopped cucumber; blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse just until incorporated. If necessary, add more water to thin the gazpacho. Season the soup with salt and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of slivered almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish the soup with the toasted almonds and the finely diced cucumber and serve.

One Serving 320 cal, 28 gm fat, 3.6 gm sat fat, 12 gm carb, 4.2 gm fiber.

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho, by Suzanne Goin

2 1/2 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes
3 Persian cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and cut in half
4 cilantro sprigs, plus 12 cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons diced red or orange sweet pepper
3 tablespoons diced red onion
18 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Super-good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Blanch the yellow tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Use your fingers to slip off their skins. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes, saving all of the juice. Reserve the ice water.
Seed and dice 3 tablespoons of unpeeled cucumber, as prettily as you can manage, for the garnish. Peel and coarsely chop the remaining cucumbers.
Place half of the yellow tomatoes, the coarsely chopped cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, garlic, vinegar and olive oil in a blender with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and some pepper. Process at the lowest speed until broken down. Turn the speed up to high and puree until the soup is completely smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved ice water. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Taste for seasoning. Repeat with the rest of the soup ingredients. Chill the soup in the refrigerator until it’s very cold.
Toss the diced sweet pepper, onion and cucumber together in a small bowl. Pour the gazpacho into 6 chilled soup bowls and scatter the pepper mixture over the soup. Season the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper and place 6 cherry tomato halves and 2 cilantro leaves at the center of each bowl. Finish each soup with a drizzle of super-good olive oil. To serve family-style, place the soup in a chilled tureen or pretty pitcher and garnish with the cherry tomato halves and cilantro; pass the diced vegetables on the side.

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