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A gazpacho rainbow. August 15, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, recipes.
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3 comments

Silence Dogood here. A couple of days ago, I ordered tomatillo gazpacho at a local coffeeshop. Summer = tomato season = gazpacho, right? Okay, these are tomatillos, aka husk tomatoes, not actual tomatoes. But I’d assumed there would be tomatoes in the gazpacho along with the tomatillos, so I was shocked and horrified when the cold summer soup appeared at my table and it was green.

Green! Gack. I immediately flashed back to the margarita I ordered at a Cuban restaurant a couple of years ago that turned out to be brilliant mouthwash blue. Blue!!! Gack. That’s just not right. But in fact, if you didn’t look at it, it was pretty good. So I picked up my spoon and tasted the soup. Thank goodness I did! It was nothing short of delicious. Yummo!!! I was determined to come up with a tomatillo gazpacho recipe to share with you all.

As I dove into my vast cookbook collection and recipe file, the first thing I noticed was that gazpacho comes in plenty of colors besides red. (My very own signature gazpacho is, in fact, pink.) There’s a veritable rainbow of gazpachos out there for you to make and enjoy! So I’m going to share some of those rainbow recipes with you today. And whatever color you choose to make, you and your friends and family will definitely find the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, I promise!

Gazpacho has a lot going for it. It’s low-cal and healthy, for a start. It’s a cold soup, so it doesn’t heat up the kitchen on a hot day. It comes together in no time. And, of course, it uses lots of fresh veggies, so it’s a great way to take advantage of the bounty of produce from your own garden, local farmers’ market, or CSA. What are you waiting for?!

          Silence’s Think Pink Gazpacho

Don’t let the color put you off. It tastes just amazing! Makes one large pitcher.

4 ripe tomatoes, preferably heirlooms

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

medium bunch fresh basil leaves

6 drops hot sauce (we like Pickapeppa, or use Tabasco or Tabasco Chipotle)

1 green bell pepper

1 banana pepper

1 hot purple pepper (such as ‘Czech Black’)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups tomato juice

3 sweet onions (‘Vidalia’, ‘WallaWalla’, or ‘Candy’ type)

3 garlic scapes or 1 clove garlic

Chop all veggies and basil and puree in a blender. Pour half the puree in a bowl, leaving the remainder in the blender. Divide the tomato juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt evenly between the blender and the bowl. (This makes too much to blend at one time.) Blend contents of blender and pour in pitcher; repeat process with remaining puree in bowl. Chill and serve with fresh basil leaves on top.

         White Gazpacho

And you thought my pink gazpacho was weird! Greece meets the Southwest in this recipe from Chile Aphrodisia.

2 cups green seedless grapes, cut in half

1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks

1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds

2 tablespoons chopped scallions (white and light green parts only)

1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, chopped

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons almond oil (you can substitute canola oil if you don’t have almond oil)

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 cup whipping cream

salt and pepper

toasted almond slices, for garnish

chopped chives, for garnish

In a blender, puree the grapes, cucumber, almonds, scallions, jalapeno, vinegar, oil, and honey. With the blender running, slowly add the cream. Season to taste. Chill thoroughly before serving. Garnish with toasted almond slices and chopped chives.

       Southwestern Yellow Gazpacho

This recipe is from the Prairie Star restaurant in Bernalillo, New Mexico, courtesy of the book Vegetarian Southwest. Tomatillos enhance but don’t star in this tasty yellow soup.

8 ripe yellow tomatoes

2 yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped

8 tomatillos, coarsely chopped

3 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup ice (crushed, if possible)

Core the tomatoes, parboil in boiling salted water, cool immediately in ice water, and remove the skins. [Sheesh! That sounds like too much work. I’d skip this step and proceed with the next one. But suit yourself.—Silence] Combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, serranos, and garlic and divide into two batches, then puree in a food processor. Place in a mixing bowl, add red onion, cilantro, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and ice. Mix well and season to taste. Chill. This gazpacho is best served one day after preparation. Garnish before serving with edible flowers if desired, such as squash blossoms. [Yes! That many less zucchinis!—Silence]

        Green Tomatillo Gazpacho

We’ve done pink, white, and yellow—time for a green gazpacho! Here’s a version of tomatillo gazpacho with roots in Mexico’s famous salsa verde. The flavor will be deeper and richer if you grill the tomatillos, poblanos, and onion slices until the skins are charred, then cool and peel. But before you go to this effort, try them as-is and see how you like the gazpacho.

1 pound tomatillos, husked and coarsely chopped

1 pound poblano chiles, cored and chopped

1 large yellow or sweet onion, diced

8 serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and chopped

6 garlic cloves

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar, molasses or honey

vegetable stock

Put all ingredients except vegetable stock in a food processor; pulse until gazpacho is mostly smooth, but still a bit chunky. Add vegetable stock until soup reaches the desired consistency. Chill before serving. Serves four.

         Red Garden Gazpacho

Yow! If that green gazpacho strikes you as too hot, here’s one that will let you cool down. It’s from Ros Creasy’s classic Cooking from the Garden, one of the books that jump-started the whole garden-fresh cooking trend. Ros says, “It makes the most sparkling gazpacho we know,” and that’s reason enough to try it!

7 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (or 7 cups chopped tomatoes)

1 onion or several green onions

2 cloves garlic

1/2 hot or medium-hot pepper, to taste

1 large or 2 small sweet bell peppers (green, yellow, or red)

1 large or 2 small cucumbers

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup wine vinegar

1/2 cup red or white wine

3 to 6 sprigs fresh herbs: parsley, dill, basil, cilantro, and/or oregano

Chop all vegetables coarsley and process in a food processor or blender. Process all ingredients in batches, pouring into a large nonaluminum bowl to mix. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish each bowl with your choice of avocado slices, sweet pepper slices, cucumber slices, chives, fresh herbs, slightly toasted sunflower seeds, or plain lowfat yogurt. If a more traditional, tomato-based flavor and texture are desired, add 1 to 2 cups of tomato juice to the soup. Serves eight.    

        Red Bread Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa

In her book The Peppers Cookbook, pepper guru Jean Andrews says that gazpacho with bread was brought by the Moors to Andalucia, Spain, where Jean enjoyed gazpachos of various sorts every day for a month. She has an excellent recipe in her own book, but I’m giving you one from a current favorite cookbook, Red Hot!, which includes an avocado salsa. I’m not a big fan of bread in soup or salad (sorry, crouton lovers), unless, of course, we’re talking about French onion soup. But lots of folks are, and the recipes in this cookbook are super-appealing. This one is more involved than most other gazpachos, but it should wow guests next time you’re grilling or having a barbecue or outdoor supper. See what you think!

For the soup:

2 slices day-old bread 

2 1/2 cups chilled water

2 1/4 pound tomatoes

1 cucumber

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 fresh green chilli, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon

a few drops Tabasco sauce

salt and ground black pepper

8 ice cubes, to serve

a handful of basil leaves, to garnish

For the croutons:

2 slices day-old bread, crusts removed

1 garlic clove, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the avocado salsa:

1 ripe avocado

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1-inch slice cucumber, diced

1/2 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

Soak the bread in 2/3 cup chilled water for 5 minutes. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 minutes, then peel, seed, and chop the flesh. [You already know what I think about this.—Silence] Thinly peel the cucumber, then cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Discard the seeds and chop the flesh. Place the soaked bread (with any remaining liquid) in a food processor or blender. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, chilli, garlic, olive oil, citrus juices and Tabasco, then pour in the remaining scant 2 cups chilled water. Bend until well combined but still chunky. Season to taste, pour into a bowl, and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

To make the croutons, rub the slices of bread with the cut garlic clove. Cut the bread into cubes and place in a plastic bag with the olive oil. Seal the bag and shake until the cubes are evenly coated. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and fry the croutons over medium heat until crisp and golden.

Just before serving, make the salsa. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, then peel and dice the flesh. Put the diced avocado in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, toss to prevent browning, then mix with the cucumber and chilli. Ladle the soup into chilled bowls, add the ice cubes, and top each portion with a spoonful of the avocado salsa. Garnish with the basil, and hand the croutons around separately. Serves four.

Gasp. Guess that’s enough variety to get you started! You can always experiment (as I do), using heirloom tomatoes (a single color or a colorful combination), adding mint with the other herbs (or instead of them) for a different kind of cooling fire, pureeing some of the veggies and tossing some chopped ones in later for added crunch and texture, putting a dollop of sour cream or unsweetened whipped cream on top of each bowl, or even adding shredded fresh mozzarella, farmer’s cheese, or another mild-flavored cheese on top with a garnish of fresh herbs of your choice. Let me know how you like these, and/or please share your own favorite gazpacho recipe with all of us!

           ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

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