I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to do all that I can to hold on to that feeling of summer. Yes, there’s the excitement of the new school year starting, the new faces, the new travels, and adventures, but idle summers are priceless, and no one knows how to do those better than the Spanish.
The Spanish are known for their late night dinners and siestas, and for me, part of this attitude of taking things as they come, not planning too much in advance, is reflected in their cuisine. Not that I’m calling all Spaniards lazy, but if they can get away with slicing up some chorizo and cheese, taking out whatever leftovers are left in the fridge and calling it a tapas meal, they usually will.
A Spanish gazpacho, their traditional cold soup, is a reflection of all of this: hot summers, easy preparation, simple ingredients, no more effort than is strictly necessary. And yet something quite delicious is produced in the end. The tomatoes in our garden are just about ripe, so I’ll probably be making another gazpacho before the fall descends upon us for good.
If you want a little taste of Spain, it’s simple, you can even vary the vegetables according to your taste. All the ingredients are used raw. The only thing you need is a good blender, and the only rules are no cooking, no worries. So take it easy and savor these last days of sunshine…
- 2lbs ripe juicy tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 small white onion (or 1/4 large one)
- 1 green sweet pepper (red or orange will also do)
- 1 cucumber, about 6-7 inches long
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup virgin olive oil (Spanish, if you can find it!)
- 1 small piece French bread (3-4 inches long piece)
Optional / for garnish:
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 hard boiled egg per serving
- Crunchy bread/croutons
- Rinse the tomatoes and take off the stems. If they are nicely ripe, you should be able to peel the skin off easily, if not you can cheat a little by plunging them into boiling water for a few seconds, then the skin will come off easily.
- Peel and crush the garlic clove.
- Peel the piece of onion and chop roughly.
- Rinse the pepper, get rid of the stems seeds and chop coarsely.
- Peel the cucumber and chop roughly.
- Place the piece of bread in a bowl with water in order to soak it. Once soaked, drain the water, squeeze the soaked bread to get out as much of the water as you can, and set aside.
- Put all the fresh ingredients into a good blender or food processor: the chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion, pepper, cucumber, and soaked bread. Add the remaining ingredients (salt, olive oil, wine vinegar) and mix at your blender’s maximum capacity. Be careful not to let it get hot.
- Keep blending until the mixture is completely smooth. It should be creamy rather than watery. If you feel the tomato and cucumber seeds are making it a little grainy, just pass the finished mixture through a sieve and you will get a much smoother result.
- Pour the gazpacho into a jar or bowl and let it chill in your fridge. The colder the better, but don’t let it freeze! Serve it in bowls as a first course or light lunch.
- Try the gazpacho before you chill it, you can add pepper, cumin, tabasco or another spice to your taste. I prefer it as fresh and simple as possible.
- You can serve your gazpacho with finely-chopped hard-boiled egg or parsley as a garnish, or with crunchy, toasted bread or croutons.
- Always try the cucumber before adding it. If it’s sour, your gazpacho will be ruined.
- Gazpacho keeps well in fridge for up to about a week.