When I have fresh seasonal produce I like to prepare it as simply as possible. I like the abundant flavors found only in just picked produce to take center stage. Why cover up all that amazing flavor and mask it with copious amounts of seasoning and spice? When I have a garden ripe tomato, still warm from the sun, I want it to taste like the delicious tomato it is. When I have produce this fresh, I like to bring out its essence with other ingredients, letting it take the center stage role it deserves.
Gazpacho is a great dish to do just that. It tastes like a garden in a bowl. For those who haven’t had gazpacho, it is a Spanish soup, often served in Italy as well. It is served cold, making it the perfect refreshing dish during the dog days of summer. Where I live we are going on a two week streak of 100 degree temperatures. Talk about needing a refreshment!
For the base of my gazpacho I chose freshly picked beefsteak tomatoes, an orange bell pepper, an extra-large cucumber, and a Walla Walla sweet onion. This mélange of produce was what looked the best to me. If your grocery store has gorgeous red peppers or extra beautiful plumb tomatoes, feel free to substitute. Use whatever produce looks the freshest, just be sure to stick to the general theme of the recipe.
Another thing I love about this soup is that you don’t need heat of any kind to make it. No ovens, stoves, barbeques, or even toasters to be found here. All you need is a high powered blender or a food processor to bring this cold delicacy together. I’d say that’s pretty perfect for summer.
One thing to note: this soup needs to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. The longer the better really. This allows the soup to cool and the flavors to mingle and infuse, creating an even more delicious result. Remember, we don’t have heat to bring these flavors together so we must rely on the fridge, and a smidgen or two of patience, to get the job done.
- 2 slices gluten-free bread (I used a rice and millet bread)
- 5 medium beefsteak tomatoes , peeled and cored
- 1 large cucumber , peeled and seeded
- 1 orange bell pepper , cored
- 1/2 sweet white onion
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 2 cups canned tomato juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- To garnish (optional):
- Extra diced cucumber , red pepper, and onion
- Olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper
Combine the slices of gluten-free bread with 3/4 cup water. Allow to soak until the bread has absorbed most of the water and is easily masked by a fork, about 15 minutes. Mash the bread with a fork and set aside.
Combine all of the ingredients, excluding the garnishes, and the mashed bread into a high powered blender or food processor. Alternately, if your blender or food processor is not large enough to hold all of the ingredients, you might need to blend in a few batches. It took my blender two batches. Make sure the gazpacho is thoroughly blended and nearly liquid.
Transfer to a lidded storage container and chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 4 hours or overnight. This will give the gazpacho time to cool and the flavors will mingle resulting in an even more delicious soup. To serve, ladle the chilled gazpacho into bowl and top with extra diced cucumber, onion, orange pepper, avocado, a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of pepper. Serve immediately.
For a grain-free option, simply omit the bread. The gazpacho will be less creamy and thick, but still very delicious.
To peel the tomatoes I used a serrated vegetable peeler and it did the trick. If You don't have this kitchen gadget, hop on over to http://allrecipes.com/howto/peeling-tomatoes/ for a great tutorial on how to peel tomatoes.