Gazpacho

Summer is officially here and I am absolutely loving the produce.  It was my turn to host the Gourmet Club meeting this month, so in honor of summer and all of its bounty, I decided the theme would be “farmer’s market fresh.”  The goal was to use ingredients that might be found in a farmer’s market at this time of the year and also for the dishes to have a fresh edge – light, crisp, not cheese-laden, etc.

My fellow foodies brought the appetizers and desserts (they were fantastic!), and I handled the main part of the meal since I was hostessing.  After much (and I mean way, way too much) thought, I decided on Gazpacho with Grilled Ciabatta as our first course and Emeril’s Fish Provencal with Orzo and Zucchini Salad as the main.  I’m going to share the Gazpacho with you today (mostly because I had a chance to snap a photo of it before we ate it!).  It’s a bit time-consuming to prep all of the produce, but this is a fantastic dish for entertaining because it actually tastes *better* if you let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving it.  It’s great for summer too because there’s no heat involved; what sounds more refreshing than a chilled summer soup on a warm evening?

To start, I roughly chopped 1 hothouse cucumber (halved and seeded but not peeled), 2 red bell peppers (cored and seeded), 4 plum tomatoes (cored), and 1 red onion into 1-inch cubes.  (They don’t have to be perfect because everything ends up in the food processor anyway.)  I put each ingredient separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulsed until it was coarsely chopped.  The recipe cautions you not to overprocess the ingredients, and the exclamation point in the recipe is for good reason.  During my test run of the recipe, I think I pulsed each ingredient about seven times; Dr. O suggested the soup would make a nice salsa.  When I made it for Gourmet Club, I pulsed each ingredient about four times, which gave me just the right amount of chunkiness.  (I did process the red onion until it was pretty finely chopped, though.  Few people enjoy a big bite of raw red onion.)

After each ingredient was processed, I transferred it to a large bowl.  I added 3 minced garlic cloves, 3 cups of packaged tomato juice, 1/4 cup of white-wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of kosher (coarse) salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  I thoroughly mixed everything together, covered the bowl, and chilled the gazpacho in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it (about 8 hours, though you can chill it for far less time if necessary).

Gazpacho

This soup is super delish; it’s light, fresh, and flavorful.  I adore this recipe even more because it lets me make and clean up my mess long before company arrives.  This is another case, though, where the soup can only be as good as what you put into it.  Make sure you get the freshest possible produce and use top-quality olive oil – the flavor difference will be worth it!

TIPS:  If you’ve never specifically used a hothouse (or English) cucumber, they typically come in a plastic wrapper at the grocery store.  They have thinner skin, less conspicuous seeds, and milder flavor than a regular cucumber.

Recipe link: Gazpacho

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