There are two things I look forward to in the summertime: Farmers Markets and Great Tasting Tomatoes. It seems like I can’t seem to get enough of either. I try to go to the Farmers Market as often as possible and I can’t resist the tomatoes (both buying them and taking pictures of them.) So it’s natural that I would make Gazpacho with them. Well, maybe it would not be natural to anyone else, but it was natural to me.
Tomatoes aren’t the only ingredient in Gazpacho. There are also other great veggies such as cucumbers, peppers, jalapenos, and onions. All of these things can be found in abundance and at the peak of their flavor at the Farmers Market.
I found a recipe on Food Network by Alton Brown and a friend of mine also recommended this recipe, so I thought I would give it a try. This recipe is almost all prep work. There is no cooking except for the cornbread croutons. (Believe me, it is worth the effort to make the cornbread croutons. I’ll explain later.)
When my kids were growing up, I was a stay-at-home mom, so I did all the cooking. My kids were picky eaters…some wouldn’t eat fish, some wouldn’t eat fruit, some had extreme dislike for veggies, some would not eat tomatoes. Some fell into all of those categories. I liked to experiment with cooking, but after a while you get a little weary of trying to find good tasting, healthy meals that will appeal to everyone. You find a few recipes that work and you make them over and over again. My children were suspicious of any experimentation. They would poke around, peer underneath to see if anything yukky was hiding there and most times just push anything odd-looking around the plate until dinner was over.
The above picture is but an example of the kids not really liking the meal I prepared for them. I don’t remember what I made because this pic was taken about 7 years ago, but now that I look at it, I’m not real thrilled with it either.
At any rate, I don’t cook much anymore. Now that the picky eaters are mostly out of the house, Yes!Chef! has boldly stepped in to save the day and make most of the meals. What a guy!
All this to say that I am not used to doing a lot of preparation anymore. Y!C! loves the prep work. He is extremely respectful of the food that he is making. He takes his time with cutting and chopping making sure that he is not hacking and whacking (which I have been known to do.) So, taking my cue from him, I took my time with the prep work for this gazpacho. And it took a looooong time…at least it seemed to me. I made sure everything was prepped and ready to go before I started making the soup.
I carefully blanched the tomatoes, dumped them in the ice bath and peeled the skin off. Then I removed the pulp. I tried to make the other vegetable cuts as even as possible and I ensured that all the seeds were removed. I think I even enjoyed the process.
I used my husband’s Chinois (pictured above) to pound the tomato pulp into submission to make tomato water and then combined it with the chopped veggies. I added all the spices, pureed about half of the mixture in a food processor, mixed it back in with the rest of the veggies, tasted it for seasoning and added some Sriracha because the jalapeno was a little blah. Into the refrigerator it went for 24 hours so the flavor could develop.
I decided on my own (and that is important that it was not Y!C!’s idea) that I wanted to add some croutons to give the soup a little more crunch. But, I also wanted to add something a little sweet to balance the spiciness of the soup. So, I thought sweet cornbread croutons would be just the ticket. Sometimes I amaze even myself. Now here is where I go off the “Fresh” wagon. I did not have the ingredients for homemade sweet cornbread, so I used a box mix (Krusteaz) that I already had on hand. I don’t think Y!C! would have used the boxed mix, but I did. If you want a homemade sweet cornbread recipe, there are plenty on the internet. Here is one that I have not tried, but it looks easy and if I’d had the ingredients, I would have tried it.
I like Krusteaz and this batch turned out well.
They probably would have been much crunchier if they had been day old, but I didn’t think that thru very well. (Y!C! probably would not have made that mistake, but he wouldn’t have used a box mix either…) So, here’s what I did with the cornbread to make the croutons. Made the mix (I follow instructions pretty well), let the bread cool. Then I turned it out of the pan, cut it into thick slices and then cut the slices into cubes. I put the cubes on a baking sheet that I had lightly coated with olive oil. Then I brushed olive oil on the tops of the cubes and sprinkled with salt and pepper. (I always use Kosher salt because it has a better, less salty taste than regular table salt. In fact, the only time Yes!Chef! uses table salt is when he is salting water to boil for pasta or vegetables.) After that, I put the lovely little cubes into a 400 degree oven for about 4-5 minutes, turned them and then let them cook an additional 4-5 minutes. After I turned off the oven I felt that they could use a little more crunch, so I put them back in the cooling oven to dry out a little more. Watch them carefully that they do not get burned.
Here’s the recipe by Alton Brown (don’t neglect the basil!)
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007
- Prep Time: 45 min
- Inactive Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min
- Cook Time:–
- Level: Easy
- Serves: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- Tomato juice
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.
Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.
Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for 2 hours and up to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.
Copyright 2012 Television Food Network G.P.
As I mentioned above, I also added some Sriracha because the jalapeno did not have much punch. But, you should taste before you drop more of that spicy condiment in your soup. Taste, taste, taste as Yes!Chef! always says.
Here’s the finished product:
I loved this recipe and so did Yes!Chef! We had it for lunch yesterday and we will finish it up today. He added even more Sriracha, but I thought it was spicy enough. The basil gave the vegetables a great boost, but the sweet cornbread croutons were bomb (as Y!C! always says when something is good.) They added the necessary sweetness to balance the spicy jalapeno and Sriracha. The soup was satisfying, filling and it tasted like summer!
I’ll finish this post with a little bit of summer at one of my favorite places in South Lake Tahoe. (Although Obie T. Dogg does not care for veggies, he does love summer…)