Glorious Gazpacho

 

Somehow I knew one of the first posts that would absorb my attention on returning from my impetuously scattered sabbatical would have something to do with food. I have been ravenous these last weeks for all sorts of fare that so typify summer. Things I normally never eat, but long for throughout the year, like those wonderfully swirled creamy confections of chocolate and vanilla ice cream — DQ cones (Dairy Queen). I had one, a scrumptiously great one, just last week, at one of those ubiquitous little take-out places that dot the seashore, this one in the tiny town of Stinson Beach, a picturesque spot of unimaginable beauty that lines the sands of the pacific. Curiously, the place was called the Parkside Cafe, a deceptively named establishment since it looked like little more than a weathered and worn beach shack providing a take-out window for the beachcombers and a cozy little restaurant, a hidden-away local hangout, for those who love to linger. Impossibly romantic with vaulted wood plank ceilings, large windows and scarred floors, it is out of another time, a real California time with wavy-haired young surfers and 50’s style architecture reminiscent of an era when the Beach Boys were the soundtrack to life.

There’s something about this season of muggy days and sultry nights where casual and effortless is the rhythm to match.

One favorite fare of perfect taste and exquisite color is a Watermelon, Feta, and Black Olive Salad. Pair it with something cool and light, like a Pinot Grigio, add a side of Tuscan toast to nibble on, and you’ve got delectable in your midst.

 

 

Another of those heat inspired perfections that alternately cools and excites in equal measure is chilled gazpacho.

 

 

Often described as a liquid salad, gazpacho descends from an ancient Roman concoction based on a combination of stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar. As Romans labored to build roads and aqueducts across Spain in the scorching heat, this creamy soup replenished them with the necessary salt and vitamins lost through physical exertion.

 

 

Later, shepherds and farmers added vegetables to make it more hearty and satisfying. Because tomatoes and bell peppers were not indigenous to Spain, these ingredients were not added to the soup until after Spain’s discovery of the New World. Since that time, gazpacho has remained relatively unchanged – a hearty and pungent soup, without pretension, designed to quench the thirst evoked by the unrelenting summer sun.

 

 

During these long, blistering days, little is as cooling or thirst-quenching as a chilled gazpacho. Or as prudent. What better time than the height of summer to prepare this ‘liquid salad’ when tomatoes are ripe and vegetables plentiful.

 

 

According to famed chef, Gordon Ramsay, who developed this variation on the classic, it is “One of the best starters you can have in summer.”

 

 

Ingredients

 

6 ripe vine tomatoes, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and finely crushed
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
300ml cold vegetable (or chicken) stock
300ml tomato juice
1 large handful basil and tarragon leaves, chopped
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Good quality olive oil, to drizzle
Croutons, to serve

 

For a thicker and heartier version, add a few slices of stale bread (crusts removed).

 

 

Put all the vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle over the lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Mix well.

Pour in stock and tomato juice to cover, then stir in the herbs and a dash each of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and chill for at least four hours to let the flavors meld. Serve in chilled bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and croutons scattered on top.

ED NOTE: Made this yesterday. Wonderful! Had two jumbo bowls to the accompaniment of the sensual, sacred and wonderfully funny Babbette’s Feast for the evening’s entertainment. A truly inspired pairing.

 

 

Photographs: Getty Images

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 07/11/10.

7 Responses to “Glorious Gazpacho”

  1. One of my favorite things, gazpacho. I must certainly try Gordon Ramsey’s receipe. Your photos are wonderful, truly a visual feast.

  2. I just love tomatoes…luscious photos!

  3. I am lucky enough to live in Mill Valley (over the hill from Stinson Beach) and love going to the Parkside for cozy dinners on foggy nights. Hopefully you had time to visit charming Mill Valley on your trip. Can’t wait to make the gazpacho with my backyard tomatoes. Thanks for a beautiful blog, you are inspiring!

  4. oh what a refreshing, delightful post!! just what i needed, it’s way too hot and humid here in Vallarta these days!…

  5. OK, EA, this is getting spooky. My partner (half Spanish) and I drudged up our favorite gazpacho recipe (given to my mother many years ago from a Spanish woman in Salamanca) from the recipe file yesterday and made it for the first time in quite a while. And then you write about gazpacho!

    It’s fun to be on your wavelength, let’s keep it up.

  6. So happy for this gazpacho post. And I gave you an award: http://misswhistle.blogspot.com/2010/07/goodness-me-i-won-award.html Tania Kindersley very kindly gave me one, and I was asked to nominate some other blogs I love.

    Miss W x

  7. Babbette’s Feast…I adore that film…I wish that I could find some tomatoes that looked (and I’m sure, tasted)this wonderful…Great recipe and photos…

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