There was a solar eclipse this week that was all the rage. Some holed up in their basements while others flocked to major viewing areas armed with eclipse viewers. But do you know what we did? We made memories, sunk putts and blended up some Spanish gazpacho.
We started off by taking our kids, on one of the few warm, sunny days left of summer vacation, to play a round of mini golf at Timber Creek. Of course, this was only after we threatened them within an inch of their 20/20 vision should the urge strike to look at the sun. Because responsible parenting, yo.
I didn’t play my best game despite an epic hole-in-one (the competition can get a bit heated). I blame my lacklustre performance on the golf ball ricocheting off my toe which left it 50 shades of purple. Ice cream helped my bruised ego and an ice pack helped my bruised toe. I was able to soldier on, folks.
We then ambled (well, drove) over to 19th Avenue Farmer’s Market for a cart full of fresh produce. The rows upon rows of plump, juicy tomatoes of all sizes, shapes and varieties inspired me to load up on all the ingredients to make one of my favourite summer dishes: Spanish gazpacho. (I also loaded up on all the goodies to make my green smoothies so those need to happen this week.)
I basically grew up on gazpacho so I consider it as much a part of my genetic make-up as tortilla de patatas (potato omelet), churros con chocolate and sangria. Chefs around the world are dabbling in variations of this classic dish but an authentic Spanish gazpacho should be a smooth purée of fresh vegetables with a hint of garlic, pimentón and vinegar. Served chilled and topped with fresh croutons and finely diced cucumber and peppers, gazpacho makes the perfect summer dish.
So You Want Me Eat Cold Tomato Soup?
To the uninitiated, the prospect of eating what is essentially a cold tomato-based, vegetable soup sounds wholly unappetizing. I’ve had soups before that claimed to be gazpacho but were closer in taste and texture to a glorified salsa with corn. Nope. Don’t do it. Don’t mess with a classic. If you really want a taste of Spain, then this is the gazpacho recipe you want.
Now, I’ll be honest, my recipe — put together after years of watching my dad whip up this summer staple — is hand-scratched on two Post-It-sized pieces of note paper glued to an index card in my recipe box. At this point I just eyeball the quantities (which is why I end up with enough gazpacho to feed 20 people). So my only recommendation is that when you add the onion, garlic and seasonings that you err on the side of caution and then adjust according to your taste buds. I like mine to have a hint of salt and paprika, plenty of garlic and the tang of the vinegar. Scroll down for the full, printable recipe for my Authentic Spanish Gazpacho.
Authentic Spanish Gazpacho
- 6 medium-large field tomatoes
- 1 1/2 large field cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2-3 slices sandwich bread
- 1/4 tsp Spanish sweet paprika (pimentón) adjust to taste
- 1/4 tsp dry oregano (crushed between fingers) adjust to taste
- 1/8 tsp salt adjust to taste
- 1/8 tsp pepper adjust to taste
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar adjust to taste
- croutons, and cucumber and peppers, finely diced to garnish
Begin by blanching the tomatoes then peeling and quartering. Set aside.
Chop cucumbers, peppers, onion and garlic.
Depending on the size of your blender, you will need to work in batches of two or three, adding equal parts of each of the ingredients to each batch. I usually go by handfuls: two handfuls of tomatoes, one handful each of cucumber, onion and peppers. Add the proportionate amount of garlic.
Quickly soak a slice of bread in water, turning it over. Add one slice to blender with each batch.
For each batch, drizzle in some of the olive oil (about one tablespoon) and vinegar (about a half tablespoon). Add one eighth of the paprika and oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Taste testing is very important here. Take a moment to try the gazpacho and adjust the oil, vinegar and seasonings to your taste (and adjusting the next batch accordingly if, say, you need less salt). Pour the gazpacho into a large bowl or container and continue with the next batch.
Once all the batches are blended, stir together and, if necessary, pour a little at a time back in the blender and blend together (have a second bowl ready for the re-blended gazpacho). This mixes the flavours of the batches evenly and allows you final adjustments.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week (or longer if you're feeling wild and crazy). Mix well before ladling into serving dishes. Garnish with croutons and diced cucumber and peppers.
Have you tried gazpacho? I would love to hear what you think if you try the recipe. Also, feel free to share what your favourite savoury summer recipes are in the comments below. I love trying new things!