Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches

Dallas has been hotter than you-know-where, which tends to make firing up the oven or stove less than appealing. The July/August 2008 issue of Everyday Food has a great spread on oven-free meals for summer, so I decided to try one – Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches – that combined a few of my favorite flavors. All you need to make this recipe is a blender, a knife, and 20 minutes.

To make the gazpacho, I washed, cored and quartered 2 pounds of plum tomatoes (minus 2 tomatoes, which I diced to garnish the soup). I pureed the soup in two batches with 3 minutes of puree time per batch. Each batch was half of the tomatoes, 3/4 cup of tomato juice (1 1/2 cups total), 1/2 tablespoon of red-wine vinegar (1 tablespoon total), and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (1 tablespoon total). I transferred the pureed gazpacho to a large bowl, seasoned with salt and pepper, and refrigerated it until dinnertime. (It can be prepared up to 1 day ahead.)

To make the sandwiches, I split half of a French baguette horizontally. I drizzled each half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (2 tablespoons total) and then layered the bottom half with 4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto and 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese. I seasoned with salt and pepper (don’t forget this step!), closed the sandwich, and cut it into quarters. I dished the soup, garnished it with the diced tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil, and served the sandwiches alongside.

This was so good! I’ve never made gazpacho before (and I’ve had few opportunities to eat any kind of chilled soup at all, actually) and I was really pleased by the texture and flavor. The sandwiches were ridiculously simple but incredibly delicious – I *do* love prosciutto and mozzarella.

I think the key to this entire meal is to use high quality ingredients. I bought the best tomatoes, prosciutto and mozzarella I could find, and I used really flavorful extra-virgin olive oil. I also made a 5-minute trip to the store to make sure we’d have a fresh baguette for the sandwiches. Dr. O’s only complaint is that this really isn’t hearty or fulfilling enough for dinner – it’s more of a lunch. If you want to knock someone’s socks off with food for a daytime meeting or a picnic, though, this is a great way to do it.

TIPS: I have a handy little tool that makes coring tomatoes a snap. Check it out here.

Also, make sure you use *fresh* mozzarella cheese for the sandwiches. Fresh mozzarella is soft, typically white, and often packaged as an 8-ounce ball (though sometimes you’ll find it packaged in a plastic container with liquid). It has a really mild flavor, which makes seasoning the sandwiches all the more important. There’s actually a cheese shop here in Dallas – Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company – that is supposed to have *amazing* mozzarella. I might be due for a field trip this weekend…

Recipe link: Tomato Gazpacho with Prosciutto-Mozzarella Sandwiches

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