Gazpacho

(March 22, 2019) There was a time when my thoughts wondered to tomorrow and today was just a passing fancy.

“What if” became my focal point and “what is” seemed to simmer on the back burner. But prudence has a way of prevailing, and I finally understood that contentment is a recipe for peace of mind and well-being.

Each day is a blessing and we should take advantage of this incredible miracle. Explore the many bounties that are at our finger tips and appreciate their beauty and goodness.

With that thought in mind, let us take a closer look at gazpacho. This Spanish classic is basically a liquid salad of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and bread.

Gazpacho is light and refreshing and yet intensely saturated in flavor. Typically, it is a summer dish when tomatoes are in season. However, a few adjustments allow this dish to be enjoyed year-round.

Sun-dried tomatoes combined with canned whole tomatoes will give the soup the flavor profile that it is famous for. This mixture may sound unconventional but it is quite successful.

Many gazpacho recipes call for adding water, but I do not suggest this. It will only dilute the tomato taste. A touch of chicken stock and tomato juice ties the ingredients together for a more delicious dish.

Make sure the seeds from the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are removed. Seeds are bitter and should be avoided at all costs.

Another secret to an ultra-velvety gazpacho is a generous amount of olive oil. It adds weight and body to what otherwise is essentially pureed vegetables. For best results, use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Traditional gazpacho incorporates layers of flavors. Sherry vinegar adds another component of acidity as well as complexity.

Finally, stale bread acts as a thickener and also helps retain the wonderful zest that has been so carefully created.

People eat with their eyes, and gorgeous plating enhances both the look and taste of your food. Garnishing is always important, and gazpacho is no exception to the rule.

Since this Spanish delight can be served as an amuse bouche, appetizer, or main course, the options vary according to purpose intended. This decorative touch is up to the individual and every garnish must be purposefully placed on the dish.

For example, brunoise dice is a French cooking term that refers to the smallest uniform size available for dicing.

Cucumbers, jalapenos and bell peppers can be diced in this fashion to add an artistic rainbow of color and texture. They must be carefully added one at a time as opposed to taking a spoonful and placing them on the soup.

If you are serving gazpacho as a main course, steamed shrimp could be placed on the rim of the bowl for a more substantial meal.

Details are always a consideration, so the next question is do you want to serve the shrimp plain or should they be flavored a particular way. The point is to remember that garnishing is just as important as the actual cooking.

In closing, gazpacho is mouthwatering, easy to make, and can be enjoyed year-round. Enjoy!

Gazpacho

Ingredients

2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained, seeded and ends removed

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 ¼ small mini cucumbers

1 small yellow, orange and red bell peppers, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon of each pepper for garnishing)

½ sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 slices stale crusty bread, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 cup tomato juice

1 cup chicken stock

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, optional

½ jalapeno, seeded and brunoise dice for garnishing (Set aside)

1. In a bowl of the food processor, add canned and sun-dried tomatoes.

2. Cut off the end of the whole cucumber. Peel, coarsely chop and add to the bowl of the food processor.

3. Brunoise dice the remaining cucumber for garnishing, set aside.

4. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, bread, basil, salt, sherry vinegar, tomato juice, chicken stock, olive oil and hot sauce and puree. For best results, use a high-powered food processor.

5. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least six hours and up to two days. This marinating time is very important. This process will heighten the flavors and allow them to come together for a garden of gastronomic delight.

6. Pour soup in a chilled bowl and garnish with brunoise diced cucumbers, peppers and jalapenos.

Serves 4 to 6 appetizer portions

Secret Ingredient – Living in the Moment. “Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

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