When I was a kid, my mom and dad made some really delicious gazpacho using the huge beefsteak-tomatoes-on-steriods that used to come out of the garden. Unfortunately, when I was a kid, I thought the whole idea of a cold, pureed tomato soup was “eewww” and so I never ate it. In my mind, it seemed to be one of those things – like Dad’s tomato juice and liverwurst – that were meant for Dad (and Dad only). How I deprived myself!
As an adult, I began to enjoy my mom’s gazpacho recipe. She told me she learned to make it when they came home from Spain in the 70s. I can relate, because when I came home from Spain in 2007, I too, was craving it. There isn’t much for an almost-vegetarian to eat in Spain – most dishes come with hidden or not-so-hidden morsels of pork, sausage or beef. But I managed to make it by, eating my way through Andalusia’s wide assortment of icy-cold, garlicky gazpacho, and goat’s cheese drizzled with sharp olive oil and served with crusty bread (and not to mention a large pitcher of sangria on most evenings). It was tough – but someone’s got to do it.
This is my personal gazpacho concoction. There is not much to it that is original – gazpacho itself is not a particularly difficult or intricate recipe. The only thing I have done in this recipe is to add red pepper and paprika for colour, and eliminate the soaked bread in order to reduce the calorie-count. I call it ‘back-to-school’ gazpacho because that’s when I make it: right before I go back to school. It freezes very well, and makes a perfect lunch because all you need to do is pull it from the freezer before leaving to work, and it’s perfectly thawed (but still chilled) by the time lunch comes around. The best part? It’s only 1 point on weight watchers – which means I can enjoy it with a big plate of raw veggies, some manchego or goat’s cheese and some lavosh bread…and still have room for chocolate!
4-5 very large, ripe tomatoes, skin removed
1/2 cucumber (or two mini cucumbers), peeled and chopped
(I don’t peel mine because there is a lot of fibre in the skin, but most people prefer to peel it)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
pinch of salt
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
6-8 drops of Tabasco (although this time, I used Grace Caribbean hot sauce)
pinch of sugar (optional)
1 tbsp high quality olive oil (when you use a strong, flavourful olive oil, you don’t need as much of it)
Skin tomatoes by making a shallow slit in the skin and dropping into a pot of lightly boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and run under cold water; the skins should slide off. Chop the tomatoes on a plate to reserve the juices and seeds. Add them to a blender with all the other ingredients, puree, and chill for a few hours to allow the flavours to set in. Taste it before you chill it, and add ingredients to your likng. You can serve it garnished with chopped peppers and cucumbers, and a liberal dusting of pepper – if you are not freezing it.