Food Matters is an ongoing blog category that will present and discuss information and ideas around many topics that pertain to food and nutrition, including the ecological and ethical dimensions of our food choices. I will also periodically post yummy, easy and healthy recipes for you to try.
What is Gazpacho?
Gazpacho is a Spanish summer soup served chilled. It is made with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, sherry or red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt. It is a soup that takes full advantage of the summer harvest and makes a cooling and refreshing light meal or appetizer. Traditionally, a variety of pepper commonly used in Spain known as pimientos verdes is used, which is similar to Italian frying peppers and has a distinct bite like a chili.
Many gazpacho recipes in the US also include the addition of bread to add body and thickness to the mostly pureed soup. Purists in Spain say that bread is only used if the tomatoes are not up to par. If the tomatoes are of good quality and have good flesh, the addition of bread is not necessary to add body.
The addition of olive oil is actually to help thicken and emulsify the vegetable juices and to make the soup rich, silky and satisfying. This is what makes this more than just vegetable juice. Seek out the best olive oil that you can, especially a peppery Spanish olive oil so that the flavor of the olive oil comes through.
Recipes vary throughout Spain, but in the region of Andalusia gazpacho is made smooth and velvety and is meant more as something to sip, like a refreshing beverage. In other regions of Spain, some ingredients are pureed while other ingredients are finely minced and the resulting gazpacho has more texture. Gazpacho is ubiquitous throughout Spain, and everyone knows how to make their own version that their friends and family prefer, and how to ad-lib according to the ingredients and taste preferences.
In this version of Gazpacho I have added some Mexican ingredients in addition to the standard ingredients of Spanish gazpacho: Tomatillos in addition to the tomatoes, lime juice instead of vinegar, Ancho and Anaheim chiles, and optional ingredients of cumin and fresh cilantro.
At my local farmers market there is a Mexican farming family that produces the most amazing Mexican vegetables, herbs and beans. Their lovely produce is what inspired this particular recipe.
The N & N Amaro Produce family (Norma and Nicolás Amaro) can be found at the Lents farmers market and others. They are a wonderful and friendly family and I am amazed at the variety of beautiful produce they grow. They are always happy to give you recipe ideas! I feel so fortunate to know them and be able to support them. Follow this link to read more about Norma and Nicolás Amaro and their family’s journey.
Though not a Spanish gazpacho per se, it is a very refreshing dish in the heat of the summer and early fall. I hope you will give it a try!
GAZPACHO WITH A MEXICAN TWIST
This makes about 1‑½ quarts of gazpacho.
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes cored and roughly cut into chunks.
- ½ — 1 pound fresh tomatillos – husked, rinsed and roughly chopped or quartered.
- 1- 2 cucumbers roughly chopped. Peeled if skin is waxed or tough, seeded if with large seeds. Smaller more delicate types of cucumbers, that require neither peeling nor seeding, can be found at your local farmers market.
- 2–3 fresh ancho or Anaheim peppers or a combination of the two, coarsely chopped and seeded. Or other chiles and combinations of your choice.
- 1 small mild white or red onion, or several scallions – chopped
- 1–2 cloves of garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup or more, olive oil
- salt to taste
- fresh lime juice to taste
- optional garnish, fresh chopped cilantro
- optional if needed to thin: Knudsen Organic Very Veggie Juice
- optional ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste.
Combine all of the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion and garlic in a food processor. Add half of the cucumber and chiles. Blend at high speed until very smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the texture becomes a bit thick and changes color. Depending on the water content of the vegetables, you may need more or less olive oil. Once this mixture is smooth and somewhat thickened, pour into a large bowl or container.
Add the reserved vegetables to the food processer and pulse to finely dice. Add these diced vegetables to the pureed vegetables and stir. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Add ground cumin if using and stir. Thin or extend if needed with Knudsen Organic Very Veggie Juice. Garnish if desired with chopped fresh cilantro.
This is delicious at room temperature or chilled. Serve with additional lime wedges.
Remember that the proportions of the vegetables in this recipe are variable and depend on your taste preferences as well as what you have on hand. That is also true for the amount of salt, lime juice, olive oil, and optional ingredients.
NOTE: Okay. I whole-heartedly admit that I am not a “by the measure” sort of cook. I feel as I go, depending on what is at hand and the qualities of the ingredients. So please take my recipe amounts “with a grain of salt”. All of the ingredients and optional ingredients can be adjusted according to what you have on hand, or what your preferences are. Creative substitutions or additions are always welcome. Cooking and meal preparation is often an organic process in the moment. I call it “jazz cooking”. Explore and make the very best of summer’s produce!
Eat real food.