Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ripe Tomato Solution: Gazpacho

There comes a moment in the summer when the tomatoes are so red, so ripe that they demand a really luxurious use.  Sauces can come later.  Of course, many people would say that slicing them and eating with or without a drizzle of olive oil is enough.  But what I think of is gazpacho.

Ingredients for gazpacho are simple.
Gazpacho is a much abused dish.  I've been served many versions, and in browsing recipes I've found many horrors.

A common abuse is that bread is omitted.  The dish probably originated as a bread soup.  According to Wikipedia, it may have come to Spain from the Moors or from Rome, as a soup made of bread and vinegar.  Today there are several classic Spanish soups in which bread is a primary ingredient.

Many recipes have Too Many Vegetables.  Others actually use commercial tomato juice or add herbs or even Worchester sauce.  The result is more a salad than a soup.

I learned to make gazpacho from a Spanish woman and still use a much stained recipe in her hand to make mine.  Sara used only a few ingredients to make the soup, then passed little bowls of chopped vegetables (onions, green pepper, cucumbers) and cubes of bread to add as you wished.

Sara's Spanish Gazpacho

Soak a couple of pieces or a heel of French bread in water.

Remove stems from 4-5 very ripe tomatoes.  (No need to peel.)
Remove stems and seeds from a green pepper.
Peel 1-3 cloves of garlic.  (Three makes it rather garlicky.)
Squeeze the water out of the bread.

Place all of these into a blender (a little at a time, so that it will liquify and blend).  Once blended, add "a drop of oil and a drop of vinegar"  (I advise about 2:1 olive oil to wine vinegar) and salt.  You'll have to add these by taste.  I start with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of vinegar, then add a little more after tasting.

Chill.  Serve with cubes of bread and vegetables to taste.  It will keep several days in the refrigerator and makes a great refreshment drunk out of a glass, too.