Thursday, July 8, 2010

Perfect meal for a steamy week: Quick & Easy Gazpacho

Wow, this has been a hot week. The kind that keeps me away from the kitchen. It's difficult to muster up enthusiasm for cooking-- or even grilling-- when it's so, so steamy outside. And so, for the better part of this week I have been offering up dinners from the snack bar or I've popped something from Trader Joe's into the oven and cringed when I had to open the door to take it out. But, there are only so many nights when a mom should have her children's leftover onion rings with a white wine spritzer, so today was the day to figure out a homemade meal that was: quick, healthy, and didn't involve the use of the the oven or stove.


While the notion of whipping up this soup intimidates some, it really shouldn't. If you own a Cuisinart or heavy duty blender, it can literally be made in minutes. And, since it only gets better over time, make a big vat of it and serve it various ways over the next few days:
  • as is (delish)
  • first put croutons in a bowl, then top with gazpacho, letting the bread soak up the liquid
  • topped with some grilled shrimp or crab meat
  • as a side dish with an assortment of cheeses and cured meats
  • topped with some chopped avocado + cilantro + sour cream for a slightly Mexican flair
Now that I have espoused Gazpacho's virtues, and promised it's easy to make, let's get to the recipe. I've also shared some photos for those of you who like to see the quick preparation in action.

Quick & Easy Gazpacho

English or Kirby Cucumbers
Bell peppers
Olive Oil
Sherry or Red Wine Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Tomato Juice or V-8
Mint, chopped (optional)

In a Cuisinart, chop the tomatoes, peppers, jicama, onion and garlic until desired consistency (some like their Gazpacho smooth, I prefer it chunky). Add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato juice to taste. As a basic formula, it's 1 part acid (vinegar/lemon juice) to 3 parts olive oil. Start there and you can always add more of one or the other. If you want to cut the vinegar but don't want to add more olive oil, you can always add more V-8/tomato juice. Serve the soup chilled. Will keep for a week in the fridge, and the flavor will improve over time.

Here it is in photos: I pureed half of the tomatoes, with the blade on my Cuisinart. Actually, I didn't puree them, my sous chef got in on the action.

Oh, one thing worth mentioning: you'll notice on a lot of Gazpacho recipes, you're supposed to "peel and seed the tomatoes". That doesn't happen here. I just cut out the stem, then toss them in, skins, peels and all.

This is what the pureed tomatoes looked like.

Then I switched to the shredder attachment on the Cuisinart, and shredded the rest of my tomatoes so they'd be a little more chunky.

Next up were cucumbers. I found these small ones at the supermarket, that didn't require anything but a quick wash and they fit down the chute. Brilliant.

You'll see that I am just adding each new veggie that fills my Cuisinart bowl to a large mixing bowl. No need to clean the Cuisinart bowl between veggies... they're all ending up in the same place!

Next up: onions.

Then: green bell peppers.

And last: another cucumber and a medium-sized jicama. Whoa, we have outgrown our bowl.

A few lemons squeezed into the new big pot, then a quick pour of sherry vinegar and olive oil...

and a splash or two of Low Sodium V-8.

Then my piece de resistance (since I had some in my herb pot outside): fresh mint, chopped in the Cuisinart.
Add the mint, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and plenty of fresh pepper. Give it a stir and

done! Tonight eaten as is, no fancy toppings, but I did serve it with a side of hearty whole grain bread. Perfect.

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