Yes, I know, it’s a bit presumptuous to title this “the best,” but as a life-long lover of gazpacho, I stand by this recipe! Juicy, ripe summer tomatoes party it up with sweet red and orange peppers and refreshing, crunchy cucumbers (from my Harvest Moon CSA, of course) and a few other secret ingredients (well, not so secret after this post, huh?) to make a cold, tangy, summery soup that has infinite possibilities for meals and snacks! Plus which? It’s good for you and it’s gorgeous! (Delicious, gorgeous food makes me very happy.)
Now the Lazy Cook would probably call this “Gaz-choppo” because yes, there is chopping involved. But that’s when I turn on my iPod and just jam out to some great music and chop away! And the Cuisinart does a fair share of the work here, so it really doesn’t take more than 20 or 30 minutes to put this together – but then you want to chill it for a bit to let the flavors get to know each other and explode in all of their delicious happiness.
After all the batches of gazpacho I’ve made and eaten over the years, and all the recipes I’ve tried, this one hit the mark. The sharp tangy hit of balsamic and Worcestershire seems to bring everything to life. Of course, the quality and ripeness of the vegetables play a big part, too, but now’s the time to find the best in your farmer’s market or maybe your own backyard. And in the entire recipe, there’s only 1/4 cup of olive oil, so this is pretty low-cal and low-fat, too. Paired with some crusty bread and maybe some good cheese, it’s one of my favorite light summer meals.
INGREDIENTS (makes about 2 quarts)
4 or 5 medium-size ripe tomatoes
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 1/2 cucumbers
1/2 red onion
4 garlic cloves
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce (or more; taste for yourself)
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
12 oz. tomato juice (canned or bottled)
1 Tbl kosher salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Chop each veg (tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onion) into chunks, about 2 inches in size, but don’t obsess about the size. Here’s how I chopped my peppers:
2. Using the metal blade in your food processor, chop each veg separately – pulse for as many times as you need to get the texture you like (I like this a little chunky so you get some good chewy, chunky texture in each bite). After each veg is to your liking, put it into a large bowl. Put all the veg into the same bowl and make it a big one (several quarts in size) because it’s got to take all the other ingredients, too. Here’s how I do it:
– Chop the peppers; put them into the bowl
– Chop the cucumber; put it into the bowl
– Chop the tomatoes; put them into the bowl
– Chop the onion, garlic and scallions together – a little more finely than the others veg (I don’t like big chunks of these).
3. Add all the other ingredients: the balsamic, olive oil, Worcestershire, tomato juice and salt and pepp. Stir it all about. Taste it for seasoning. Add more salt or pepp if you need to.
3. And you’re done! Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours to let the flavors come together.
The Fun Part
I love gazpacho so much I sometimes eat it multiple times per day, every day, until it’s gone. But I need a little variety, and gazpacho is like a blank canvas. You can dress it up with a million different things! Following are some of my favorite ideas. Let me know what you like and please share your own ideas with me!
- A dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Diced avocado
- sautéed or roasted sweet corn, cut off the cob
- Chopped-up raw cauliflower (the earthy crunch is really good in here)
- A spoonful of black beans or cannelini beans
- Parmesan croutons (just toss some bread cubes in a saute pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil for about 10 minutes until they’re crisped, and then sprinkle on grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese)
- Minced hard-boiled egg
- Shrimp – roasted, grilled or boiled
- Shredded, roasted chicken
- Hell, throw some vodka or tequila in it and call it a cocktail!
The point is – gazpacho is a crafty little summer soup that can masquerade as a meal, a snack or even a fancy, light entrée, depending on what it’s wearing! Have some fun with it, and have a delicious summer!