Monday, August 20, 2012

Gazpacho Soup

“WHAT’S UP WITH THE WEATHER” is the cover article of the September 2012 National Geographic Magazine. WEATHER GONE WILD, “rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately. What’s going on?”

I have seen and read many horrible stories in the news lately, and while I am not a superstitious person, I do think something is terribly wrong. It’s either by natural causes, human error, or “God must be very angry” (hopefully not with me). I must say that I am very lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the weather has been very pleasant this year. We had a warm winter and mild spring, and summer has been great. My sympathies to those of you in the rest of the country.  I know the cruel pain of heat and humidity that those areas have been dealing with. Not only did I grow up in a big city with very hot summers, but I’ve visited places such Texas, Mexico, Crete and southern Spain in the summer. So while it’s not humid (or too hot) here, I am accustomed to having cold dishes in summer:  cold tofu, cold soba, cold cappellini, insalata Caprese, ceviche and gazpacho soup.  

This recipe is by a young woman from Seville who I met while traveling one very hot summer in Greece. She missed and craved gazpacho soup, so we went to get vegetables and made it at the kitchen in the campground near Sparta. Many recipes call for mixing in some bread, but her soup is made only with vegetables. It’s easy to make and great for a hot, steamy day. 

Gazpacho a la Andaluza
Makes about 1 ¼ quarts (5 cups)

1 lb good ripe tomatoes, such as Roma or Early Girl, cut in quarters
1 regular cucumber (or 2 Persian cucumbers), peeled, seeded and sliced
1 small bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
1/2 small onion or 2 shallots, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
Juice of ¼ lemon
1 cup cold water
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon hot paprika (optional)

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Croutons (optional)

Purée all the vegetables with the vinegar, lemon juice and water in a blender or mixer for about one minute. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and the hot paprika if using, and blend for another 40-45 seconds. Transfer to a container and chill at least 2-3 hours.

Serve with grilled rustic country bread drizzled with good olive oil, and Stuffed Baked Zucchini (instructions below) for a light meal.

Nutrition for 1/5 of gazpacho recipe (about 1 cup), not including croutons:
160 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 4 g protein, 75 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 20% DV vitamin A, 50% DV vitamin C, 10% DV potassium. To reduce calories and fat, simply use less olive oil.

Wine suggestions: Chilled dry sherry (e.g., Fino, Amontillado; or dry rosé or Cava.

 Stuffed Baked Zucchini  or summer Squash

Stuffing options:
-          Leftover cooked rice, chopped parsley, garlic and parmesan cheese
-          Chopped tomato, zucchini, garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese
-          Chopped chicken (or mild pork) sausage, onion, garlic, parsley, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese

To create your own with whatever you have in your refrigerator:  Season the stuffing with salt, pepper and olive oil and put inside hollowed out zucchini “boats” or "cups".

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the stuffed squash for 20-25 minutes.

Finally, I had a little time to prep Flan al Caramelo and bake it at the same time as the stuffed summer squash. This post is dedicated to the FRESH LOCAL AND BEST blog. Her recipes are always FRESH and make me want to try them!

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