I am on vacation. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I usually take the summers off. This is never intentional. Summer should be the best time of year for writing about food and as I spend a good part of the summer in California, I have tons to write about. So, today I am up at 6:00, the sun just burning through the early morning fog. Everyone is still asleep so I can sort through photos, tap away on the keyboard, sip a large bowl of cafe au lait and write in peace! Through the open window, I think I hear an owl. When I look up, the valley is barely visible through the twisted branches of the live oaks outside. It is cool up here in the front bedroom with the breeze blowing through the open windows. Nothing like how hot it will be by noon. In a couple of hours, I’ll drive down the road to the farm in San Martin so we can have gazpacho for lunch. There, the tomatoes almost burst in the heat, the cucumbers staked under their their wide green leaves are crisp and cool, and the air is spicy with garlic.
There are two ways to make gazpacho. You can hand chop the vegetables or you can puree them in a blender. Hand chopping vegetables into precise smithereens seems like a waste of time on a blisteringly hot day, when the tomatoes are perfect for gazpacho. On hot days, you shouldn’t have to work too hard just to make a little lunch. This is why you have a blender.
Gazpacho - serves 10
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 (2-inch) piece baguette or if you don’t have any on hand (I didn’t) 1 slice of any kind of sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 15 very ripe medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 medium English cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (smoked paprika has gone so mainstream they even sell it at Trader Joe’s!)
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a blender, soak bread in tomato juice for 15 minutes.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, salt, and smoked paprika. Blend again until smooth.
- With motor running, slowly add the vinegar, then the olive oil.
- If you have the patience, chill for 4 hours, then serve. I had a bowl right away with an ice cube in it, and then another bowl 4 hours later.
- 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In medium bowl, toss together all ingredients.
- Ladle gazpacho into bowls.
- Spoon chopped vegetable mixture into middle of each bowl, dividing evenly among bowls. Serve immediately.
Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for 2 days.