Gazpacho: Two Ways

I don’t have the best memory. Okay that’s putting it mildly. If I’m being honest, I have the worst memory ever. Like on the planet. In the history of memory having, I’m at the very bottom. I envy my sister who can seriously remember things from inside the womb. It’s scary how much she can recall from when she was tiny and itty bitty. We’ll be talking about something in particular and then all of a sudden she’ll bust out a memory and include when, where, what she was wearing, what she had said and what she was doing on a specific date. She’ll say something like, “Remember when I was born, I came home from the hospital wearing that yellow bunny onesie and played in my crib?!” Okay I exaggerate. I on the other hand, can’t even remember what I ate yesterday. This is not an exaggeration. I have very little recollections of my childhood. I mean sure I remember a few things here and there and bits and pieces of certain moments when I was young, but for the most part my mind’s a blank. My sisters will gladly tell you that I was oblivious as a kid. Always wandering off and in my own world, never paying attention. I guess this is what happens when you’re the only boy and the youngest in the family. There are certain things however that I do remember. Like the traditional putting up of the christmas tree. Putting the tinsel one strand at a time, we weren’t allowed to throw clumps of shiny tinsel all at once. The fact that my mother would only make soup on the hottest days of the year. How I couldn’t sit still for the life of me and was constantly moving around, jumping, grabbing, or pushing buttons as a kid. The way my mother would hide our halloween candy (in her closet up above the shelf) giving us only one piece a day. Talk about torture. It took about 2o minutes for my sister and I to find it, climb up and sneak a few (okay like 10) pieces of candy a day. Sorry mom. I also recall the constant watching of a certain movie. This movie in particular probably defines my entire existence. Not only because it was released the year I was born but because we’d watch it all the time to this day. It is by far the fondest memory I have. Now that I’m older it’s definitely one of my favorite films.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a foreign film from Spain by Pedro Almodóvar —hands down his best work of all time. I learned two things from watching this movie so often throughout my entire life. One, that no one is as badass as Pepa Marcos and two, gazpacho can solve all of your problems in more ways than one. This dish will forever be synonymous with that movie for me until the end of time. Whenever I hear someone mention gazpacho or if I see it on a menu somewhere this movie and the spiked gazpacho with 25 or 30 sleeping pills will come to mind. So here we are today making not one, but two gazpacho recipes. There’s a scene towards the end of the film when the police are asking the main character what exactly is inside the gazpacho. I remember wanting to make it (minus the drugs of course) as she listed off the ingredients in it. “Tomate, pepino, pimiento, cebolla, una puntita de ajo, aceite, sal, vinagre, pan duro y agua. El secreto está en mezclarlo bien.” The secret is in mixing it well she claimed, and she’s right. I also remember thinking what in the world is gazpacho. It looked like plain ol’ tomato juice to me. It’s cold soup friends. Wonderfully delicious cold soup. So I’m giving you two gazpacho recipes. My take on this classic Spanish dish. Perfect for the summer weather. The first is a chunky watermelon gazpacho served with grilled shrimp and the second is a traditional smooth gazpacho, just like in the film.

I’m very adamant against mixing savory and sweet. Say whaaaat!? I know I know, I’m an alien, but I like my sweets separates from my savories. To the point where I need my pancakes/waffles/french toast on their own plate. Heaven help you if you place my pancakes/waffles/french toast on the same plate as my eggs and bacon and sausage and ham and hash browns. I’ll flip the table over and walk away in disgust, thus ruining your breakfast experience forever. I’m totally kidding. I’ll still eat it but reluctantly. I’ll never say no to food. My oldest sister plops her pancakes on top of her eggs and potatoes (all drenched in ketchup mind you) and then drizzles maple syrup all over everything. Now that’s an alien.

It might come as a surprise that here I am now including sweet watermelon into a spicy gazpacho. The thing is, the watermelon doesn’t make it sweet at all. It just balances out the spiciness perfectly. Cooking is all about balancing flavors.

Gazpacho is pretty much made up of 75% tomatoes, so that’s what we’re starting with.

 

Smash and peel a few cloves of garlic.

 

We’re going to be chopping half of all the vegetables into large chunks (except the garlic, we’re using all of the garlic at once). It doesn’t have to be precise because we’re going to run it through the food processor. So chop and drop.

 

We are going to also need half of a red onion, one small jalapeño (seeded and diced), and half of a cucumber.

 

 

Chop up half of a red bell pepper and half of a green bell pepper. Save the other halves for later on in the recipe. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense right now. It will all become clear later on. And if it doesn’t I give you permission to write to me and say “What in the world are you talking about Jonathan?! I have no idea!”

One of the most important components of gazpacho is actually not well known to many people, and that’s day old bread. I have a chunk of a baguette here. It needs to be a day (or a couple days) old because it’s harder and drier, which helps with the consistency of the soup. Drier bread soaks up better it’s the cold hard facts.

 

Of course we need the star of the show, the main attraction the A-#1 ingredient, watermelon. You might not know this—although you should because I’m pretty sure I’ve only mentioned it like 50 times throughout this blog—but watermelon happens to be my favorite fruit. It’s just so refreshing and wonderfully perfect, no? Just nod and agree with me folks. Although technically and officially watermelon happens to be a vegetable. Madness for sure. But yes it’s a vegetable look it up. In 2007 Oklahoma passed a bill declaring watermelon as the state vegetable. The more you know. My world just collapsed.

Cut the watermelon away from the outer skin and cut it into large chunks.

This might be the perfect time to tell you that you might have to pulse this all in the food processor in batches. Depending on the size of your machine, it might not have the capacity to hold it all at once. I had to purée mine in two batches. It’s okay. Sure it’s more work, but it’s delicious work.

**Note: If you have a large, well-working, blender then you can most definitely use that instead of a food processor. Again, you might have to pulse it in batches.**

 

Okay, those are all the vegetables. Now for some finishing touches.

We’re going to need red wine vinegar.

 

Olive oil.

 

Agua (That’s water. See what I did there? Cause it’s gazpacho and it comes from Spain so I said water in spanish. Achem. No? Okay.)

 

Last but not least is salt and pepper. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper, actually.

 

Pulse until completely smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom as needed. Let’s just get this out of the way now, it’ll never be 100% completely smooth. It just won’t happen. All the vegetables will create some pulp so there will be some slight texture, and that’s okay. The sooner you accept that this isn’t a smoothie, the better off you’ll be.

If you had to do this in batches, like I did, just dump this into a large bowl and purée the second batch in the same manner. After that is done, add it to the bowl with the first batch.

If you managed to fit all the ingredients into the food processor or blender all at once (then you are a magician and you should show me your ways) you can throw the purée into a large bowl.

The watermelon gazpacho is going to be chunky, so remember how I said we were only rough chopping half of all the ingredients at the beginning? Well now we’re going to chop up the rest of the vegetables. Instead of rough chopping them, you are going to small dice them into uniform shapes.

All of the same ingredients again.

Cucumber.

Red onion.

Red bell pepper.

Green bell pepper.

Tomato.

  

 

**Note: You can add chunked watermelon as well if you’d like, I didn’t want to so I didn’t. I felt like the watermelon in the purée was enough. But if you’re up for the chunky watermelon, add it! Also if you like it really spicy, you can add another chopped jalapeño to this.**

Add the chopped vegetables to the gazpacho and give it all a stir, until evenly combined.

  

  

You’re done with the first gazpacho. Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s just one giant pot of super chunky salsa….and you are absolutely right. But it’s soup okay. Soup. Cold soup. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

**Tip: Let it rest for a while because the flavors need to marinate and blend and build up. The longer it sits, the better it will taste.**

You can call it a day and serve the gazpacho just like it is. Garnish it with some parsley or cilantro and large chunks of watermelon. Maybe add a few crumbles of feta cheese because why not? It’s cheese. Cheese is always invited to any party.

Or you can make the ultimate topper and grill some shrimp to place on the top right before serving. I vote for the grilled shrimp. I’ll never say no to shrimp and something tells me I’m not the only one who feels the same way.

So I’m using jumbo shrimp. You don’t have to break the bank to make this. The jumbo shrimp can cost a pretty penny, so don’t overly splurge. It’s really only a garnish (an incredibly delicious garnish) so you really only need two pieces per serving. That’s totally manageable. Of course if you want more, by all means buy more.

The jumbo shrimp is usually not deveined or peeled. So you can do it yourself by running a paring knife along the top of the shrimp. Remove the gunk and junk and veins and peel off the shell, leaving on the tip of the tail. That gives you something to hold onto later on when you eat the shrimp. Plus it looks fancy and after all, aren’t we trying to be fancy?

  

Season the shrimp very simply with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil. Don’t get carried away and add a bunch of seasonings or herbs and what not. This isn’t the time to experiment. The gazpacho already has a bunch of flavor so you don’t want the shrimp to overpower the main dish.

Heat up a stove top grill over high heat until it is smoking. Grease it with cooking spray to ensure the shrimp don’t stick. Add the shrimp, leave them alone for about 4 minutes. Don’t touch them. Don’t turn them. Don’t even look at them.

**Tip: Only flip the shrimp once, this will ensure the perfect charrness on them.**

Flip and cook for another 3 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly.

  

Once you are ready to serve and eat and enjoy this tasty gazpacho you can take out the soup from the fridge, serve it cold and top it with the grilled shrimp. The shrimp doesn’t need to be super hot, room temperature is just fine. It is a cold soup after all. You can also serve it with crusty bread or croutons for dunking. I’m all about the bread dunking.

The idea of cold soup used to scare me. I’ll be honest, it still scares me. I mean soup is supposed to be hot and comforting not cold and refreshing. The universe has turned upside down. But with that being said gazpacho is probably the only cold soup I’ll eat. It’s just delicious.  I find that other cold soups are almost always bland and just one note in taste. This one has a variety of complex flavors and layers. It is refreshing and filling. The watermelon gives it just the right amount of sweetness.

 

If I was a normal person I’d stop right here and call it a day. One super easy recipe is delicious enough but no, no I can’t just stop right here. I need to go forth and continue on my gazpacho quest. Perhaps you’re not feeling the whole watermelon gazpacho. That’s okay. Perhaps you’re prejudice against chunky gazpacho (I won’t judge. I don’t know your life). Maybe what you really want is smooth traditional gazpacho. That’s okay too and you don’t have to worry about it because I got you covered. I got your back.

Let’s make a traditional gazpacho while we’re at it.

It pretty much has all of the same ingredients as the first gazpacho, minus the watermelon and minus the jalapeño, although I’ve included it here in case you like it spicy and want to add it.

For this gazpacho we’re pureeing it all so cut up all the vegetables into small pieces. I say small pieces so that it all fits into the food processor or blender. Again, it might not all fit at once so you might have to do it in two batches.

Tomato.

Red onion.

Garlic.

Cucumber.

Red bell pepper.

Green bell pepper.

Jalapeño, if using.

  

  

And bread. Bread gets it’s own big picture because duh it’s bread.

Add all of those ingredients into the food processor or blender.

And then throw in the following ingredients.

Red vinegar.

Olive oil.

Water.

  

Season with salt and pepper. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

 

Purée until completely smooth and pour out into a bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. It might need more salt or pepper, maybe even a splash of vinegar. It’s dependent on your tastes.

 

If the seasoning is right on, you can cover the gazpacho with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. It’s best if it sits for a few hours giving the flavors a chance to marinate and enhance causing gazpacho yumminess.

Let’s work on a garnish for this one as well shall we? You’re more than welcome to do the grilled shrimp for this one if you’d like. I wanted to give you some variety. I wanted you to have some options to choose from. So for this one, I recommend topping it with  Portuguese chorizo.

**Tip: Portuguese chorizo is a lot different than Mexican chorizo, in that it is firm and you can cut it. Don’t get the Mexican kind, the one where it’s in a casing and you have to remove it and crumble it in order to cook it. That won’t work here.**

So we have our chorizo, cut it into diagonal pieces.

Heat a heavy duty skillet over medium heat. Add a touch (just a touch) of oil and place the chorizo slices into the pan. Make sure it’s all on a single layer. Don’t over crowd the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, flip and continue to cook for another 3 minutes on the second side. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

Once you are ready to serve and eat and enjoy this gazpacho, you can remove the soup from the fridge, and pour it into bowls. You can garnish it further with diced cucumber and onion. Or my personal favorite, a few slices of avocado and a couple pieces of our browned chorizo slices.

I think bread is the perfect accompaniment to any dish. Any time of day, no matter what. Bread, bread and more bread is what I always say. So what I did was cut up some of that day old baguette into slices and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes until they dried out like croutons. They’re awesome with the gazpacho so if you feel like doing that, well I highly recommend it.

 

Whichever gazpacho you choose—honestly I hope you’ll give both a try—they’re the perfect summertime meal. Light and very refreshing. It goes back to what I was saying a couple posts ago about not wanting to cook on a hot day. Well this fits the bill nicely. Practically no cooking involved. You can eat these soups without feeling guilty or super full in the end. And hey, you’ll have room for dessert. You’ve were so healthy that I think ice cream is in order. Yes, ice cream will definitely make the perfect ending to this summer meal. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. avatarRushi! says

    The only time I had a cold soup was on vacation and that was a really spicy mango one :) I’ve always wanted to try Gazpacho but for some reason or the other never got around to it. Thanks to you I now have not one but two recipes to try out :) Yay!!

  2. avatar says

    Mature tomato
    Green Pepper
    I Ruffle, it is not necessary too much, with two teeth it is nice.
    Cucumber, there is the one who does not use it, but I yes.
    Bread
    virgin Olive oil extra (better Spanish)
    A bit of vinegar, is not necessary that it is strong.
    It waters down, for if the bread thickens the gazpacho too much.
    Regards from Spain.

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