A Week in Photos: July 15th

July 23, 2013

I did more than make gazpacho last week, twice. I also made this open faced sandwich for lunch one day with my bounty from the farmers market. I took a piece of hearty bread, smeared it with the greatest cracked pepper and dill goat cheese ever, piled on some sautéd garlic, white beans and watercress, and topped it with a heaping helping of radish and cabbage micro greens. It really hit the spot.

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And on Saturday morning, needing to use up a bunch of tomatoes from my sad little rain-sogged garden, I made Shakshuka from the Jerusalem cookbook (I am having quite a good time cooking out of there!). Basically you just make a tomato sauce with red peppers or potatoes or whatever you have on hand (I had potatoes and a summer squash), add some harissa or chile sauce or the like (I used sambal oelek) and cumin and garlic, then gently break your eggs into the sauce, let them cook so the whites are hard and the yolks runny, top with a few dollops of greek yogurt and you’re all set. It was divine. Unlike the picture I took of it, but you get the point. I was hoping for more of a sexy drizzle of greek yogurt over the top, but it didn’t quite happen like that.

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But what I really want to tell you about is gazpacho. I’ve never felt strongly one way or the other about gazpacho, in fact, I rarely ever order it when I see it on a menu for fear that it’ll taste like bland marinara sauce or boring salsa, which, let’s be honest, it usually does. I’d attempted it at home a few times over the years but it never stood out and the recipes I found usually seemed too fussy using cucumbers, onions, tomato juice, hot sauce. I mean, it’s really just supposed to be about the tomatoes, right?

Then last summer my trusty home run of a cooking magazine, Fine Cooking, published the simplest, most delicious of all gazpacho recipes and I became hooked. And now that tomato season is upon us, the same thing is happening again. I cannot get enough of it. I made it twice last week and can foresee that continuing until the last tomato is available at the farmers market. Oh, and it should be said, only make gazpacho with the best tomatoes you can find (i.e. from the farmers market) and only during tomato season. Otherwise, it will most likely be a sad, disappointing, watery mess and will turn you into one of those people who thinks there’s nothing special about gazpacho. I used to be one of those people.

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Gazpacho

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking and it serves four perfectly as a starter or a snack. In the original recipe they use half a green pepper but because I think green peppers are the worst of all peppers, I add either an entire red pepper or a combination of colors. For one batch last week I used a whole orange pepper and it was so sweet and delicious in a different way, I think I’m going to do that again this week.

Also, don’t forget the croutons. It’s a great soup without them, that’s for sure, but I love a little bit of crunch in a pureed soup. And especially if you make your croutons from really good bread, it adds a whole new lovely element to it.

 

1 3/4 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

1/2 medium green pepper (or any color!), stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)

1/2 small red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)

1/4 cup packed torn fresh bread, plus 1/4 cup packed 1/2 inch cubes for croutons

9 Tbsp olive oil; more for drizzling

2 tsp sherry vinegar (I don’t have sherry so I used white wine vinegar and it was great)

1 small garlic clove

Salt

Ground cumin

1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

 

1. Put the tomatoes, bell peppers, torn bread, 6 Tbsp of the olive oil, the vinegar, garlic, 1 tsp salt, and a pinch or two of cumin in a blender. Pulse until coarsely pureed, then blend until very smooth, probably about a minute or two (it may be a bit frothy). Season to taste with salt and refrigerate until very cold, at least an hour or up to 2 days. (This is very important! Gazpacho is not very exciting at room temp).

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil in a skilled over medium heat. Add a bread cube; if it sizzles immediately, add the remaining cubes (if it doesn’t, continue to heat the oil). Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown all over, about 1 minute. Transfer the croutons to paper towels to drain and cool.

3. Taste the gazpacho just before serving and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve drizzled with oil and garnished with croutons and cilantro. Enjoy!

 

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