When the heat of summer begins to be tempered by the early days of fall, I like to make a big batch of gazpacho. This is the time that our local tomatoes are bursting with juice and flavor, and indulging on this oh-so-summery dish on my patio on a late summer/ early fall afternoon is a sure way to extend summer’s bounty and keep the spirit of summer alive for a time longer.
There seem to be as many recipes for gazpacho as there are for apple pie, but authentic recipes utilize core ingredients that keep the identity of the dish true to it’s Andalusian roots.
Authentic gazpacho must contain good quality Spanish sherry vinegar and Spanish extra-virgin olive oil. But while most Americans think of it as a chunky cold soup, traditionally gazpacho is served as a chilled, flavorful tomato drink.
In Andalusia, gazpacho most often consists of a small piece of crustless white bread, a little fresh garlic, salt, sherry vinegar, olive oil and black pepper which are mixed together, pureed, strained, and served in a svelt glass as a thin, sippable beverage. For tourists, restaurants in Andalusia ofter serve gazpacho in a bowl and accompanied by finely chopped onion and red and green peppers to use as a garnish.
My recipe for gazpacho is a hybrid of the above. Perhaps I am subconsciously entangling gazpacho with my love of fresh salsa, but as much as I enjoy the sippable variety, I often crave the added smoosh-ins.
My End-of-Summer Gazpacho
one 4-inch long piece of baguette, crust removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1/2 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, quartered, and coarsly chopped
very finely chopped red bell pepper
very finely chopped onion
very finely chopped peeled cucumbers, seeds removed
Marcona almond slivers
Soak the bread in 1/4 cup of warm water until softened, about 5 minutes. Squeeze the water from the bread, and discard the water.
With a large knife or in a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and the salt to a paste.
Place the bread, garlic paste, vinegar, and half of the tomatoes in a food processor and process until the tomatoes are very finely chopped.
Gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and process the mixture as finely as possible.
Hold a fine-mesh seive over a bowl and force the mixture through the seive, pressing down firmly on the solids to extract all the goodness. Discard the solids.
Add the remainder of the chopped tomatoes ( chop them finer if you desire ) to the liquid and ladle the gazpacho into a glass container. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until well chilled.
Before serving, season the gazpacho with salt and pepper. Place the garnishes in small bowls and serve the gazpacho in individual bowls. Garnish to taste.