Summer Gazpacho

Something that has been gnawing at me lately is that since I’ve moved to Denver, I spend little to no time in the kitchen, unless it’s to open a bottle of wine, make coffee, or serve up charcuterie and cheese. Shoot. I’ve also noticed that I don’t eat very well as a result, and perhaps have an ever expanding waistline. Double shoot.

So today I resolved that this would change, that I’d set aside single girl dinners comprised of cheese and some kind of salt-cured meat or sausage (sometimes an avocado makes the cut), and start thinking about what I”m putting into my body, while at the same time taking advantage of the late summer produce (tomatoes, Palisade peaches!) that I love.

Except it’s too hot to cook.

My cute little 1926 bungalow is not so cute when the mercury rises and my swamp cooler doesn’t really cool the whole house, notably the kitchen (my bedroom, however, is delightfully cool. Does anything else really matter?). I began browsing Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which, for the uninitiated, is a beautiful collection of recipes around vegetables. Lots of choices, but many involved the oven and the stove (oh, and about one million ingredients). As I made my peace with this, and started slathering on the antiperspirant (does it make a difference if you’ve put it all over your body?), I started having visions of sitting in a plaza in Seville with my dad, as the flavors of tomato, garlic and vinegar danced across my taste buds, and flamenco music drifted in and out of hearing range.

Gazpacho. The soup you don’t have to cook and is served cold. I realize I just wrote “that you don’t have to cook”, by which I mean you don’t have to use heat to prepare, and since I’m not sitting at the Sushi Den bar waiting for jalapeno hamachi, making gazpacho still counts as cooking here, folks. It’s a good one coming out of the non-cooking gate, as all you need to do is chop up some veggies and whip out the immersion blender.

Tonight I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything. I’ve never made anything of his that is bad, but he really has only the basics; this recipe lacked complexity. To his credit, he does title the recipe “Gazpacho, Fast and Simple”.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 or 3 slices of bread, a day or two old, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bread, oil vinegar, and garlic with 1 cup water (I did not add 1 cup water, it really was closer to a quarter, but this is up to your personal taste of what texture of soup you’d like) in a blender, or a bowl, if using an immersion blender. Process until desired smoothness.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with olive oil.

I prefer using some kind of peppers, but this still turned out really good, and hit the spot. I’m looking forward to the leftovers. Many people garnish with more diced tomatoes and cucumbers, in addition to the olive oil. Tonight I used a little hard boiled egg.

Another note on Bittman’s recipe – he says to serve immediately, or within a couple of hours – I think he’s crazy, the flavors intensify the longer it sits together in the fridge, it’s awesome!

 

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