Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Say It Ain't Gazpacho

A perfectly executed gazpacho is where Summertime's best bounty comes together in its starkest splendor. The ripest tomatoes, freshest cucumbers, most piquant peppers, sweetest onions when combined well and at the correct ratios can be a revelation.

Too often I've made gazpachos that lean too much toward the salsa-y or marinara-y or bland-y. It's made me abandon the pursuit for years at a time.

But when it happens just right you get ... velvet, an otherworldly orange pink sheen and a dynamite taste profile that bursts and bursts. That first sip of the tomato elixir is a heart breaker -- a life taker -- as any respectable '90s pop song will tell you.

Last week the NYTimes printed the definitive gazpacho recipe. In case you missed it, it really rocks.

One of the things I appreciate the most about it is the use of the unsung cubanelle pepper. Easily one of my favorites at the summer farmer's market, the elegant cubanelle has the perfect amount of heat that pretty much anyone can tolerate. I should also note that choice of quality olive oil and sherry vinegar goes a long way in this recipe.

BEST GAZPACHO by Julia Moskin


About 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into chunks
1 Italian frying (cubanelle) pepper or another long, light green pepper, such as Anaheim, cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly cut into chunks
1 small mild onion (white or red), peeled and roughly cut into chunks
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, more to taste
½ cup extra ­virgin olive oil, more to taste, plus more for drizzling


Step 1 Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender or, if using a hand blender, in a deep bowl. (If necessary, work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, at least 2 minutes, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.

Step 2 With the motor running, add the vinegar and 2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn bright orange or dark pink and become smooth and emulsified, like a salad dressing. If it still seems watery, drizzle in more olive oil until texture is creamy.

Step 3 Strain the mixture through a strainer or a food mill, pushing all the liquid through with a spatula or the back of a ladle. Discard the solids. Transfer to a large pitcher (preferably glass) and chill until very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Step 4 Before serving, adjust the seasonings with salt and vinegar. If soup is very thick, stir in a few tablespoons ice water. Serve in glasses, over ice if desired. A few drops of olive oil on top are a nice touch.

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