There are two travel scenarios that were repeated ad nauseum in my high school Spanish lessons and textbooks. The first involved a shopping trip to Spain’s monstrous department store chain, El Corte Inglés. I get it, the excitement over one-stop shopping–especially in those dark days, back before we had Amazon.com.
The second scenario involved entering a restaurant in Spain and ordering gazpacho. I never understood my instructors’ fascination with gazpacho. As a teenager, back before I developed an adventurous palate, the idea of “cold tomato soup” sounded less than inviting. But I loved the word (especially when pronounced Castillian style, with a bit of a lisp — “gath-pa-cho”), so I used it mockingly every chance that I got.
Fast forward several years to a trip to Seattle. I stopped into a little cafe outside of Pike Place Market and saw gazpacho featured on the chalkboard as the soup of the day, so I had to order it. I fell in love! It has so many flavors that I love–fresh tomato, garlic, onion, lime and vinegar. Because I couldn’t find it anywhere, I started to make it myself.
When we went to Spain a few years ago, I was excited to go to Andalucia and eat gazpacho by the gallon. Unfortunately, it was February and I found that most places don’t serve gazpacho in the winter. I understand this. Gazpacho is best when it’s ingredients are fresh, flavorful and in-season! But still, I was disappointed.
I told my friend last week I was going to the farmers market and would spend this week on a gazpacho-making spree and she recommended this recipe, so I figured I’d use it as my guide.
The recipe called for seeding and peeling tomatoes which is against my religion (a waste of perfectly good tomato!) so I didn’t do that. It also didn’t include any bread, as is typical in Spain, so I added some. I also didn’t seed the peppers, to add extra heat. Otherwise it’s pretty similar to the original recipe. I like it chunky, but you could puree it even more. Oftentimes in Spain, it’s very smooth and served in a glass.
- 3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cup cucumber, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 sourdough baguette (a few days stale is okay, crumble it in the food processor to make breadcrumbs)
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 small hot peppers (we used yellow “hot lemon” peppers from our garden but you can use jalapenos) minced and seeded. If you prefer things spicier, leave in the seeds.
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Coarsely chop the tomatoes and place the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl. Dice (or chop using a food processor) the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Combine the tomato with the diced mix and add the olive oil, bread crumbs, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Sprinkle with chopped, fresh basil before serving.