Summer Eats: Gazpacho

We’re pretty much in the middle of summer now and we’re all searching for ways to keep cool. One way to keep your kitchen (and your meals) cooler is to whip up some gazpacho, a perfect cold complement to ceviche or whatever you’ve had fun putting in the smoker.

With a name like that, it’s not surprising that we associate it with Spain, but actually, it was the Romans who brought the dish to what was then just a province of the Roman Empire millennia ago. And in case any of your Spanish friends want to get a bit braggy about the dish, you can remind them that a key ingredient associated with the gazpachos of today, tomatoes, came from (cough cough) the New World.

Traditional gazpacho that most of us have tasted will usually have the following ingredients:

  • pureed tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • sweet bell peppers
  • onions
  • garlic
  • olive oil

If you got hungry just looking at that ingredient list, you’re not alone. In fact, that highlights another great quality of gazpacho: it serves as a showcase for seasonal ingredients.

Tips for Making Gazpacho

So if you’re sold on whipping up some of this tasty dish yourself, here are a few tips:

  1. Use the sweetest, ripest tomatoes you can find. When you get them, you’ll need to remove the skins and seeds. To do this, cut an X on the stem side of the tomato and lower it into boiling water for 30 seconds. Then plunge it into cold water. You’ll find the extreme change in temperature helps the skin to slip right off. You can then cut the tomato in half and gently squeeze out the seeds.
  2. English cucumbers, because of their thin skins that aren’t bitter, are best, but if you can’t find them, just make sure you skin and remove the seeds from regular cucumbers
  3. Just as with peanut butter, there’s no rule on whether gazpacho needs to be smooth or chunky. Blend it how you like it.
  4. Taste and adjust just as you would with a sauce.
  5. When you’re done make sure to chill it at least one hour. This gives flavors time to develop.
  6. Pro tip: garnish when serving. Think sour cream, creme fraiche, olive oil, toasted nuts, or if you want to get fancy, cold poached shrimp.

Dessert Gazpacho

Did you know that you can use these same techniques to deliver a dessert gazpacho as well?

Think watermelon and cucumbers with some jalapeño or onion to give it a bit of a kick.

Mixed berries with a garnish of basil or half a scoop of ice cream.

Or go exotic with kiwis and papayas.

If you are making these dessert versions just for adults, you can throw some vodka or tequila into the mix: play with the levels to see what you’d like. This way you get your dessert and drinks in one dish!

Use the warm weather as an opportunity to try foods and combinations you wouldn’t ordinarily try or have at other times of the year. If you still want more inspiration there’s no shortage of great recipes online.

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