It has been in the 90s several times in the past few weeks. Which means we are now well into gazpacho season, a.k.a., the season in which it is ideal to slurp, lick or drink one’s meals cold. I have been experimenting with one of the three gazpacho recipes found in Penelope Casas classic, “Foods and Wines of Spain.” By experimenting I mean obsessing to the point that I have memorized the page number which does not really matter since the book has started to fall open to page 131 without any prompting. The core of this admittedly dorky obsession? Casas’s mother-in-law’s contention that “most gazpachos contain too much bread and oil and consequently are unnecessarily heavy and fattening.” As a result, her recipe for traditional “gazpacho andaluz” contains NO bread or oil. Oil-less, breadless gazpacho sounds more like a Weight Watchers recipe than a delicious summer treat and so much of my experimenting has been convincing myself that this will actually work. Last night I came as close as I think I can come when I finally left out all oil and bread. To be honest it was..not very good. I have had cans of Mr. T’s with better body and texture. So I added a relatively restrained dose of oil (4 table spoons) back along with a single everything bagel which was the only day-old bread product I had lying around. Ah, much better. The recipe is below although to be honest, the best incarnation I have yet created was when I pureed and strained the leftovers from this super bready and fairly oily gazpacho salad, to which I had added still more calories and oil in the form of avocados.
(modified heavily from “The Food and Wines of Spain” by Penelope Casas)
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (Used canned if you can’t get good ones fresh)
1 green pepper
1 large cucumber, peeled
4 tablespoons tarragon or red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 everything bagel, soaked in cold water, then squeezed to drain
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/4 teaspoon sugar OR some fresh water melon
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
juice of 1 lime
a few leaves of basil
Crispy diced vegetables and croutons for garnishes
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. There will be a lot of liquid so you might need to blend the ingredients in stages, then combine in a huge bowl with the help of an immersion blender, which is what I did. (The immersion blender was not good, however, at actually chopping bigger vegetable chunks which is why I’d suggest using the food processor first.) Strain puree into another bowl, using a large spoon to force the liquid through the strainer. (This makes the consistency almost silky.) Taste and adjust spices. Chill thoroughly in refrigerator then serve with garnishes.