Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer's arrived! Let's have GAZPACHO!

I'm spending some time with my family in California right now. As much as I get excited about asparagus and rhubarb when the weather turns in Minnesota, my reaction is much stronger when I encounter the beautiful - cheap - produce available at the local farmer's market in my hometown. There is JUST SO MUCH. And it's all so gorgeous and fresh and delicious. And what they lack in sausage-egg sandwiches from the Mill City Farmer's Market they make up for in fancy sauerkraut. (Seriously - the garlic dill pickle kind is crazy good. And, you know, probiotic and raw and Vitamin-C-and-lactic-acid-packed and everything else (finger-licking) good for you, so how could one resist?)

Little Bowl of Gazpacho

I've tooted my own horn here a thousand times before for being resourceful in the kitchen. When I'm at my parents' house though, sourcing from their enormous, always-full refrigerator and snipping fresh herbs from their deck and going to their farmer's market on Saturday morning, "being resourceful" is so refreshingly effortless. Everything is good here. So everything you make ends up good. It's so fun and rewarding!

Big Bowl of Gazpacho

Tonight I made gazpacho. I'd been craving soup but it was sunny and warm out, so warm food didn't seem appropriate. We had tons of fresh vegetables on hand and, conveniently, three chilled cans of original V-8 juice - and I remembered the delicious V-8-based gazpacho that they used to serve at one of the first restaurants I ever worked at like fifteen years ago and, well, that's called inspiration, folks. After a little Food Network searching, I settled on an Ina Garten recipe with hundreds of 5-star reviews as my starting point. What resulted was perfect. Probably the best gazpacho I've ever had, for whatever that's worth. In making the recipe my own, I did the things I usually do: upped the acid and threw in a bunch of fresh herbs. Excellent, healthy, cheap. Enjoy! (And, once again, I've got a ton of pictures because I couldn't decide. I hope you like them. I sure like your pictures.)

What a 1" piece looks likeFinely chopped herbs and garlicChopped veggies ready to goMixed!A little enhancement - Meyer Lemon Olive OilAdd the liquids...Perfect bite

Oh yeah - elsewhere on this blog and comparably delicious: Watermelon Gazpacho.

Adapted from Ina Garten
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 firm cucumber, seeds removed
1 zucchini
1 yellow or red bell pepper, cored and seeded
3-4 beautiful tomatoes (Ina says plum, I used Roma, multicolored heirlooms would be stunning)
1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts
3 garlic cloves
Small handful each basil (5 large leaves), cilantro and parsley (5-6 sprigs, leaves and stems)*
3 12-oz cans tomato juice or V-8**
1/4 cup lime or lemon juice*** 
1/4 cup champagne (or white wine) vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil (I used 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon olive oil)
1-3 teaspoons kosher salt*
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumber, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and scallions into 1-inch chunks. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped (about five one-second pulses worked for me). Be careful to not overprocess; you don't want mushy or mealy gazpacho, do you?

Pulse the garlic and herbs in the food processor until finely chopped. (Pesto consistency before drizzling in oil.)

Combine vegetables and garlic-herb mixture in a large bowl. Add tomato juice or V-8, vinegar, olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water if you want it thinned out a bit. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop. It keeps for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. (After that the cucumber and zucchini get a little funky and the herbs/garlic kind of overpower all the other vegetables).

* Other good herb options would be tarragon, chives, or lemon balm. Oregano and marjoram too, but in smaller amounts.

** Check the sodium content of your tomato juice or V-8 and adjust salt accordingly. One can of V-8, for instance, has the equivalent of 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Ina's recipe called for 1/2 tablespoons of salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons). I subtracted 3/4 teaspoon salt from that = 3/4 teaspoon... rounded up to 1 teaspoon since I'd added a little more liquid. You want a total salt content of about 3 teaspoons (2000ish grams), including that in juice. Err on the side of too little salt and then taste before serving, after flavors have had a chance to marry.

*** I used lime - it was about 4 limes' worth, but they weren't v. juicy limes.

1 comment:

  1. I made this tonight! It was PERFECTION! I added some queso fresco on top, and of course a few slices of avocado. I feel very healthy.