Friday, June 12, 2009

Eating in: Gazpacho

My recipe card for this delightful summer dish reads "Sonoma Gazpacho courtesy of Alton Brown." Normally, the guy annoys me a bit, but according to a large number of my girlfriends whose significant others adore this chef as does my own husband, I do not stand alone.

To celebrate five wonderfully inspiring, loving, and at times challenging years of marriage, my husband and I traveled to California, taking in the quirky San Francisco and of course relaxing in the Wine Country. It was here that we fell in love for the first time...

with gazpacho!

On our actual anniversary we dined at The Depot Hotel enjoying a bottle of white wine and discovering summer's greatest contribution to the world of soup.
Back home after the trip, we realized we had rekindled our love and it was now time to rekindle that tasty tomato treat. After a bit of Internet research, I settled on Alton's recipe; after all, he's classic in his ways. The result was fantastic. It's a sweet, yet punchy, refreshing, and might I add healthy, addition to any summer. Summer of '09--Gazpacho returns! Enjoy!

Sonoma Gazpacho (adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 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 (leave some seeds in for subtle spice)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (use two limes if smaller)
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (add more to taste--Did I? of course!)
  • 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. (Alton's useful tip--helps to remove skin later.)

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.

This is my useful tip, albeit not a great picture, for removing seeds from cucumbers--grapefruit spoons!)

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.

For an elegant dressed up grilled cheese/tomato soup combo, make provolone on focaccia grilled cheese to serve for a complete summer meal and don't forget your favorite white wine. Cheers!

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