2005: So don't you some times just know you have a kindred spirit, even if you haven't yet met in the real world? So it's been for a long time with the multi-talented food blogger of Simply Recipes, one of TIME's Coolest Websites of 2006, published just yesterday (too bad, TIME has removed that list from its site). Early on, Elise ever-so-gently taught me the ropes of food blogging etiquette, something I've repeated for other new bloggers as recently as yesterday) and always mentioning Elise's own early kindnesses. Plus, nine times out of ten, the food Elise cooks looks like it could come straight from my kitchen!
So with a dozen gazpacho recipes in contention, I chose hers. It was a big hit at a recent gathering. Many of us appreciated that this is NOT a spicy gazpacho. Now we all like a spicy gazpacho on occasion but too many err on the side of spice; that said, this recipe, too, could be kicked up if that's your taste. But I chose to make tonight's version all about the flavor of wonderful local tomatoes.
So many thanks, Elise, for showing me the ropes and for one terrific recipe for gazpacho! Since making your gazpacho, I've twice ordered gazpacho at good restaurants, neither one measured up to yours.
2010: Gazpacho is a classic summer dish, served cold, either as a starter or a light meal. It's that good! I was quite stunned about how good this is. I think you just might adore it ...
2015: "Wow. Good gazpacho." I grinned when someone raved about my gazpacho at a big feast of Spanish and Portugese food we hosted. He didn't know I'd made it! This recipe totally belongs on my "be sure to make this every summer" and "house recipe" list!
TOMATO GAZPACHO RECIPE
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes a bunch, about 12 cups
This recipe makes too much for a kitchen-size blender so it helps to work in batches. To be efficient, prep the vegetables up front and divide into four.
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
6 ripe medium-size tomatoes, chopped
4 cups tomato juice, 1 cup at a time
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, optional (see TIPS)
Zest and juice of a lemon (essential, don't skip these)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (see TIPS)
6 drops Tabasco
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chive
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
Salt & pepper
THE VEGGIES Prep the veggies, divide into four and set aside.
BLENDER INGREDIENTS Add 1 cup of tomato juice and the remaining Liquids & Herbs to the blender; process, just for a few pulses to blend. Add a quarter of the vegetables (don't pack the blender, otherwise it'll get stuck) and blend until the texture you want is achieved, then transfer to a large bowl. Add another cup of tomato juice and another 1/4 of the veggies, transfer to the big bowl. Continue until all the veggies are blended in. Stir together in the big bowl.
TO FINISH Taste, season and add Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco to taste.
CHILL & SERVE Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Serve cold.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
2010: Be sure to use really ripe tomatoes. This year I bought a large bag of very ripe and somewhat bruised tomatoes for $1. After the bruised parts were sliced off, what remained was decadently ripe. 2005 and 2010: Elise peels and seeds the tomatoes, I don't find it necessary.
BLENDER vs FOOD PROCESSOR 2005: The recipe I nearly-but-didn't make came from My Kitchen in Spain which devotes an entire chapter to gazpacho. For an entire summer, author Janet Mendel made the classic Spanish peasant soup in a food processor, then returned to the blender for better texture. She advised that a high-powered blender was important. So I checked the bottom of mine (check, at least 300 watts) but still worried if it'd have enough oomph to deal with celery and bell peppers. It did but only, I believe, because I worked in batches, using just enough liquid to squish everything around but not so much for the vegetables to get lost in the blender.
TIMING 2005: It's really important that this SIT for 24 hours before serving, it truly does take that long for the flavors to meld into something special. 2010: This time, the gazpacho was completely delicious straight out of the blender. 2015: Yep, the flavors really do meld, best to wait a few hours.
OLIVE OIL 2005: I omitted the olive oil on Elise's ingredient list, I just didn't find it necessary so this is a non-fat gazpacho. But 1/4 cup is miniscule for something yielding 12 cups and it might, indeed, smooth the finish. Plus, now that I've read more of My Kitchen in Spain, I know that "there is no such thing as true gazpacho without olive oil". So next time I will add the olive oil back in, just to see. 2010: I did use the olive oil and whether or not it was the olive oil that "made" the gazpacho or not, I don't know. It did have a smoother feel, a lovely mouthfeel. 2015: Now? I never omit the oil.
WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE 2010: My notes from 2006 suggest that worcestershire sauce is important and also makes the gazpacho "more red". But I was out and so skipped it: the gazpacho was still oh-so-good. 2015: For a vegan gazpacho, be sure to choose a vegan worcestershire.
TEXTURE So I usually blend the heck out of gazpacho for something that's pourable and drinkable from cups. But next time, I'm going to try blending it less for a more rustic texture, just to see.
HOW to SERVE GAZPACHO Consider serving gazpacho in champagne glasses, so festive! To serve tableside as the first course, consider serving in a trifle bowl, so impressive! Or for parties, put the gazpacho in carafes with small cups and spoons nearby, very festive.
GARNISHING GAZPACHO My favorite garnish for gazpacho is a simple swirl of cream. Once for a dinner party, I garnished the bowls with bits of feta and fresh herbs: these strong flavors really took AWAY from the brightness of the vegetables themselves.
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MORE FAVORITE RECIPES for SUMMER TOMATOES~ Fire-Charred Tomatoes ~
~ Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad ~
~ Fresh Tomato with Fresh Mozzarella ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Summer's Tomato Soup ~
~ Panzanella ~
~ Ratatouille ~
~ more tomato recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column