FreshTartSteph Recipe: Gazpacho
Given that gazpacho is nothing less than summer-in-a-bowl, and I'm a Minnesotan freaking out about the end of summer, I eat it everywhere that I see it. Chef Shack's tomato-watermelon version is particularly holy—a perfect balance of tangy and sweet, I wake up thinking about it on the Sunday mornings that my son and I head out to Kingfield Farmer's Market.
Which is pretty much every Sunday morning.
How do you like your gazpacho? Smooth or chunky? Spicy or sweet? I'm such a gazpacho lover that I like it any way, honestly, and mix it up every time that I make it, depending on my mood and what I have on hand.
I lucked into a trip to Provence, France, earlier this summer, where my husband and I shared a house with a family of dear friends and terrific cooks. One of the first things we made was a big batch of gazpacho, given that the markets were bursting with tomatoes and peppers and garlic, and our hostess Maud Bryt is known for her excellent gazpacho. We kept it in a big bowl in the refrigerator and sipped cupfuls of it whenever we were hot and hungry.
When I saw local food blogger Laurie Jesch-Kulseth, who writes the lovely blog Relishing It, post about gazpacho, I was of course all over it. I read her recipe, and thought about my friend Maud's recipe, and wrote to them both to see if I could combine elements of both into one. I loved the idea of the tomato juice that Laurie uses, and so enjoy the hearty dash of paprika that Maud calls for, that I suspected that their ideas together would be particularly lovely.
And they are! This is a delicious gazpacho, as spicy or smooth as you want it to be, rich and tomato-y. If it's a really hot day, Maud adds more cucumbers. Laurie makes her own garden-fresh tomato juice. It's fun to experiment with adding watermelon, your favorite herbs, or hot chiles. The key to a really tasty gazpacho is to taste and adjust and make it your own.
Adapted from recipes by Maud Bryt & Laurie Jesch-Kulseth
Gazpacho tastes best when made several hours or one day before serving.
Note: I added the Grilled Corn Salsa I posted a couple of weeks ago as a garnish and it was a lovely addition. Other nice toppings include croutons toasted in olive oil, avocado slices, a spoonful of crab meat, or one of the best toppings I've ever had, crispy-fried rock shrimp. It was in a restaurant, but I've been meaning to recreate... Instead, I usually eat it straight out of the bowl.
2 medium cucumbers, halved and seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 garden-ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c. coarsely chopped red onion
3 or more large garlic cloves (to taste), coarsely chopped
a handful of parsley, coarsely chopped (add other favorite fresh herbs, to taste)
3 c. good quality tomato juice
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil (or more to taste; it's important to use great-tasting olive oil)
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 tsp. salt (or more to taste—will depend on how salty the tomato juice you use is)
freshly ground black pepper
Add the cucumbers to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until cucumber is chopped into small pieces but not pureed. Scrape cucumber into a large bowl. Process the red bell pepper in the same way and add to the cucumbers. Continue with the tomatoes. Process the red onion, garlic, and parsely together and add to the bowl.
Stir in the tomato juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You can taste to correct seasoning at this point, but it's best if you cover the gazpacho and chill for several hours or overnight and then start tasting and adjusting the herbs, vinegar, olive oil, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, or pepper.