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Not Gazpacho

August 23, 2017

All the way back in 2012, Slate had a series called “You’re Doing It Wrong” which appeals to me immensely. One of the subjects tackled was gazpacho.

You should read it. Now.

It’s short.
I’ll wait.

Because forewarned is forearmed, they say.

It has taken the tomatoes a little bit of time to show their stuff. But I just got a delivery from Roxbury Farm CSA today, and I can attest to the fact that local tomatoes are now slamming. Holy cow, we got a carton of small walnut sized tomatoes, and I’ve been eating them like candy. Bright and acidic candy, with some fat crunchy flakes of Maldon salt. What can I tell you? I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

The point here is that it’s prime summer produce season. Tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, onions, and garlic. Their time is now. And that means you might see dishes like gazpacho popping up on seasonal menus.

But cold vegetable soups don’t have to be gazpacho to be delicious. Here’s a true story from my kitchen.

CSA day is a great day, filled with potential and promise. You never know what you’re going to get. And I love trying to figure out what to do with all the different ingredients. What makes things even more of a challenge is how many different foods, the different members of my family dislike.

Cilantro is a nonstarter.
Onions are a challenge.
Hot peppers are okay for three quarters of us.
Tomatillos are good for half of us.

I had all of these things on hand from Roxbury. And there is a lot of pressure on CSA day to reduce the volume of perishables. Quickly. Not just because they are perishable, but often the foods are tastier on the first day they arrive.

So, I took all the contentious ingredients and I ground them up in the food processor. Added some fresh garlic, a few pinches of salt, and whirled in a bit of olive oil.

Is it gazpacho? Nope.
Will I pour it into a bowl and eat it with a spoon? You bet!

And you know what? I may even gazpacho it up a bit. These kinds of raw vegetable slurries have a way of releasing more moisture overnight. But I’ve found that they need some time for the flavors to meld. So if the puree is really wet tomorrow, I may mash up some dry bread, and blend it in as a thickener. Or maybe I’ll throw some nuts in there too.

There is something to be said for leaning on ancient techniques, like thickening up summer vegetable purees with bread, oil, and sometimes nuts. But there’s also something to be said for respecting classic preparations of famous dishes. So I’ll be aware that I’m making a cold soup with echoes of gazpacho, even though it’s not gazpacho.

I’ve made a traditional Andalusian one many many years ago in the past. It’s worth doing at least once, to gain a greater appreciation for the dish.

It’s really when restaurants–especially those purporting to be Spanish restaurants–try to pass off something that’s not gazpacho as gazpacho that I get all bent out of shape.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 23, 2017 2:00 pm

    Sugar and citrus is crazy talk, but there’s a good reason to use tomato juice in your gazpacho: consistency. Tomatoes are variable, so each batch will taste a little different than the previous batch. That’s not ideal if you have a customer base that’s grown used to a specific result.

    I’ve published a lot of options and had a lot of feedback over the years and this is the clear winner: http://burntmyfingers.com/2015/08/25/recipe-ultimate-blender-gazpacho/ It contains just a pound of tomatoes (so you can afford the absolute best) and Campbell’s tomato juice (which is not made from concentrate, unlike some).

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