Gazpacho - Spanish cold tomato Soup Summer

On a hot summer day in Napa, this is the perfect starter for a dinner party or a quick lunch. The gazpacho is tangy, tart and refreshing. You can make it ahead and any extra will keep for a week in the refrigerator. I like to use yellow tomatoes in place of the red tomatoes and serve them together in the same bowl. I is best not to max the various colors of tomatoes they color won't be as vibrant.
There are several varieties of purple peppers on the market use them in place of the green pepper if you can find them. Serve with Groth Sauvignon Blanc.
Serves 6

½ cup crustless bread cubes
½ cup onion, chopped in ½ inch cubes
½ cup purple or green pepper, optional chopped in ½ inch cubes
½ cup cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
3 pounds red ripe heirloom tomatoes, seeded and grated*
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup water (optional)

1. Soak bread in cold water for 5 minutes. Remove bread and squeeze to remove any excess water.
2. In a blender add the bread, onions, green pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth at high speed for about a minute and a half or longer; depending on the blender.
3. Pour into a large bowl and whisk in the olive oil and vinegar. Add water if too thick and season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serve in a clear bowl or glass with your choice of garnishes.

Garnishes: onions, scallions, avocado, shrimp, ham (Spanish Serrano), and/or basil oil (see recipe). Use as many garnishes as you like.

*Grate tomatoes by cutting them in half around the center between the stem and blossom end. Gently squeeze each half to remove the seeds. Use a cheese grater and grate the tomato until only the skin remains and discard the skin

Basil Oil
Makes about 1/3 cup

1 bunch (2oz.) of basil leaves only
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for about 45 seconds. Drain basil and discard water. Place basil in ice water to refresh. When cool drain and squeeze dry.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Keeps for 1 week.

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie