Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gadzooks-Too Many Cukes! Part 3: Gazpacho

As the last of this three-part installment on fab ways to make cucumbers disappear, allow me to introduce you to perhaps the most versatile concoction yet: Gazpacho! This recipe not only takes care of your copious cucumbers, but tames your torrent of tomatoes as well. The Spanish got it right: this cool soup is absolutely refreshing on a hot summer day, and is the ideal method to use up your garden's bounty, just as things are starting to get out of control (where did that cucumber come from? It wasn't there yesterday!). And it doesn't hurt that it's as healthy as all get-out (in my re-occuring theme of hiding veggies in your food, gazpacho tops the charts).

Although the recipe I include here is a fairly straight-forward and traditional rendition of the Spanish classic, it is wide open for interpretation and improv. Lord knows I've made it dozens of different ways, depending on what's the most abundant at the moment. Got extra zucchini? Throw em in! Tomatillas? Why not! Celery, fennel, carrots? In, in, in. I even like to roast my veggies first to achieve a different depth of flavors.

The versions are endless, so my rule of thumb: if it would be good in a tossed green salad, it would be good in gazpacho. And mix it up with the herbs and spices as well: basil and garlic for a more Mediterranean version; cilantro and chili for South-of-the-border flair. No matter how you blend it, the results will be delish.

  • 6 medium tomatoes, cored and seeded
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, chopped
  • 2-3 thick slices of day-old or toasted country-style bread, rough chopped/torn (optional, but it gives the soup a bit of toothiness)
  • 1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
Add all of the ingredients to a blender, and puree until liquified and smooth. Chill well before serving.

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