Saturday, August 11, 2012

I got my first taste of gazpacho at a friend's place for dinner. And decided that no matter what the authentic or original taste should be, I could definitely put my spin on it to take it to a whole new level.

Summer's here and tomatoes abound, and in the recent issue of Edible Vancouver there was what I thought was a recipe for gazpacho that was worth my time. Sometimes just reading through a recipe, you know it will work for you. This was one of those times. And it was one of those hot summer days that warranted something cool for lunch.

Now I didn't want a smooth creamy slurry, I wanted a thick chunky mess. And for added texture, I made croutons accidentally, when I realized I had too much gazpacho and had extra soaked bread bits (you'll find out later). And this made fabulous croutons, though some critics at the table suggested they were probably better if crispy. I agree.

This recipe serves 7-8 as a starter.

8 ripe and juicy tomatoes, quartered, juices saved
8 slices sourdough or any hardy bread, cubed or 'rustically' broken off
8-10 cloves garlic (but then, I like garlic), chopped finely
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (a dang good one)
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh parsley (I had dried, so used that)
1 tsp herbes de Provence (if you have it)

1. Having prepared the tomatoes, place in a bowl in the freezer while preparing the rest.
2. In a large bowl, combine garlic, water, EVOO, vinegar, salt & pepper and mix to combine.
3. Soak the bread cubes in this for at least half an hour. (honestly we were pressed for time and gave it a mere 10 minutes ... Was already very flavorful).
4. When desired chill is achieved, remove tomatoes from the freezer, pulse in a blender with half the bread bits, parsley and herbes, blending till chunky (or more if it pleases you).
5. Serve with the rest of the bread bits, a bit more of EVOO and a sprig of parsley

.Note: If time is available, make the crispy croutons. Having marinated the bread bits for 5-10 minutes, place them in the oven for 20-30 minutes till browned.

A show of hands guaranteed a spot on the blog and a future lunch, albeit not too soon. During lunch Max was kind enough to read out some interesting facts about this dish : it originated from Andalucia, southern Spain, and every region has its twist, some including peppers, cucumbers and possibly as it crossed the ocean, avocados. Interesting!

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