Last week, my lovely friend Maia was telling me in scintillating detail about her current addiction to gazpacho. Of course, I just had to try it for myself. Not try, per se, but pick her brain and others on what makes gazpacho great and then make it for myself. Maia said it must be spicy, it must have citrus and it must contain both cilantro and parsley. Fair enough.
After doing a little researching of my own (aka. eating), I did not like the size of the chunks I was getting from many of the gazpacho’s I tried. Especially the celery and cucumber. My next move was to ask my mother (the family recipe almanac) if we had a traditional family recipe for gazpacho? Nope. She had never made one. It was time to forge a new family tradition, or something like that.
In my quest to Buy Fresh, Buy Local I headed to the local farmers market for what would be a lesson in what’s in season. There was an abundance of fresh herbs and tomatoes but not a pepper or citrus fruit in sight. I had to head over to the grocery store to get a few things and some tomato juice – which is kind of cheating. Here’s the list, based on this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated:
– 3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes following illustrations below (about 4 cups)
– 2 medium red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes following illustrations below (about 2 cups)
– 2 small cucumbers (about 1 pound), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes following illustrations below (about 2 cups)
– ½ small sweet onion (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla) or 2 large shallots, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
– 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
– 2 teaspoons table salt
– 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
– Ground black pepper
– 5 cups tomato juice (I used a 46 oz. can)
– 2 ½ tablespoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo
– 1 medium-sized jalapeno, finely chopped with seeds removed
– ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
– ¼ cup minced Italian parsley
– 6 tablespoons lime juice
– 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
– 8 ice cubes
– Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, salt, vinegar, jalapenos and pepper in a large (at least 4-quart) nonreactive bowl. Let stand until the vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato juice, chipotle chiles, cilantro, parsley, lime juice, lemon zest, and ice cubes. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.
Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper and remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes. Serve cold, drizzling each portion with about 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and topping with the desired garnishes.
To jazz things up a little, I added melon balls to mine. I had a little avacado and mango salad left over from the previous nights’ dinner that I heaped on top, which was also pretty tasty. If you want to be even cooler than me, you could also throw in a few shrimp OR use your gazpacho for the ultimate Bloody Mary!
I am still on the quest for the perfect gazpacho and I am open to suggestions! So chime in below and let me know what you think!