Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick Gazpacho with Fresh Tomatoes

Enigma4ever asked me for a 'fresh tomato' version of Gazpacho so here is a slightly modified version of a recipe that appeared in 'Cooks Illustrated' a few years ago. I usually add a couple of stalks of celery to the recipe as well since I like the added texture. I also add a couple of tablespoons of fresh basil which I finely chop by hand since I always have some in the garden in the summer.

Quick Food Processor Gazpacho

The recipe recommends using Welch's tomato juice for the recipe and it is the best. Traditionally, diners garnish their gazpacho with more of the same diced vegetables that are in the soup, so cut some extra vegetables when you prepare those called for in the recipe.
This recipe makes a large batch but it keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10
3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes or other fleshy tomatoes just make sure they are very ripe (about 1 1/2 pounds), cored and quartered (I like to peel mine but it is not necessary)
2 medium red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch pieces
2 small cucumbers (about 1 pound), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into rough 1-inch pieces
1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia, Maui, or Walla Walla) or 2 large shallots, peeled and minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons table salt
1/3 cup red wine vinegar

ground black pepper
5 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon Tobasco sauce (optional)

extra virgin olive oil for serving

1. Process tomatoes in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until broken down into 1/4- to 1-inch pieces, about twelve 1-second pulses; transfer to large bowl. Process peppers and cucumbers, separately, until broken down into 1/4- to 1-inch pieces, about twelve 1-second pulses; add to bowl with tomatoes. Add the onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, and ground pepper to taste. Let stand until vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, if using; cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

2. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve cold, drizzling each portion with about 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and with desired garnishes (chunks of veggies, steamed shrimp, chunk of avocado, croutons, etc.). (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.)

Garlic Bread Bonus
As a bonus here is the secret to great garlic bread. Depending on how much you like garlic take 4 or six peeled cloves of garlic and roast them in a small pan for a few minutes on top of the stove until they soften a little and you can smell them. This light toasting will soften the flavor a bit and you won't have that 'raw' garlic taste. Mash them with a fork and a small amount kosher salt and then blend them with a stick of softened unsalted butter and two teaspoons of good olive oil. You can add a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese as well, but it is optional. Use the spread on some good French or Italian bread and toast under the broiler. It is amazing what the quick toasting of the garlic does to the flavor. Once you try it this way you will be spoiled.

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