Rosengarten Classic. Originally Published: Posted on Internet in 2007
It is high gazpacho season once again…and time once again for me to go highly ballistic about how messed-up our gazpacho-making is in America!
Walk into a tapas bar in Sevilla, at the center of the Andalusian gazpacho tradition, and you will likely find a pitcher on the bar that looks like it contains canteloupe smoothies. If you order gazpacho, they will pour you a glass of this miraculous, velvety stuff, more suggestive of harvest-season vegetables than the vegetables themselves. There can be other serving methods—but the straight pour in the glass is the real deal gazpacho thing.
In the U.S., not only do we think it has to be in a bowl, with a satellite system of sprinkle-ons—HAVE IT YOUR WAY!!!—but the gazpacho itself usually has a fatal flaw. Nine out of ten I see in America are like cold tomato soup, with the tomato pulp co-existing in the bowl with the runny tomato water.
This is not gazpacho! It was invented eons ago as a way of re-cycling stale bread—which was pounded with olive oil and vegetables to make a smooth soup. The two things we almost always leave out in America are the stale bread (CARBS!) and the olive oil (FAT!)—thereby missing the essence of the dish.
I want you to see the difference, and have included a killer gazpacho recipe below. But, in order to know its highest high, you need two things that the ancient gazpacho inventors never had:
1) The Vita-Mix, or Vita-Prep, the greatest, most pulverizing blender in any chef’s kitchen; and
2) A very fine strainer, not chinois-fine, but quite fine. I like the strainers made by Anolon.
And now you’re ready for The Gazpacho Experience:
Gazpacho in a Pitcher
FOR BEST RESULTS: PUREE VEGETABLES IN VITA-MIX and STRAIN SOUP THROUGH ANOLON CONE STRAINER (fairly fine)
makes 4 cocktail servings
1 ounce stale Italian or French bread, with crust
1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, stems removed
1/4 lb. Vidalia onion
1/4 lb. cucumber
1/4 lb. green bell pepper
1/4 lb. red bell pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar de Jerez
1. Break the bread into large chunks, place chunks in a bowl, and cover with cold water (about 1 1/2 cups). Soak until the bread is fairly soft, but not mushy, about 1-2 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the bread with your hands, and place bread in the container of the Vita-Mix.
2. Cut tomatoes in large cubes (you should have about 1 1/2 cups), and add to container.
3. Peel the onion, and cut into large dice (you should have about 1 cup). Add onion to container.
4. Peel the cucumber and cut in half the long way. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, and discard seeds. Cut cucumber into large dice (you should have about 2/3 cup), and add to container.
5. Remove the stems and seeds from the green bell pepper and the red bell pepper. Cut each into large dice (you should have about 1 cup of diced green pepper, and about 1 cup of diced red pepper). Add cut peppers to the container.
6. Add olive oil and sherry vinegar. Turn Vita-Mix on at low speed, then ratchet up to high. Blend on high until the mixture is very smooth and velvety, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, then blend on high for a few seconds more.
7. Pour the gazpacho through the Analon Cone Strainer into glasses, or into a pitcher. Push gazpacho through the strainer with a spatula or wooden spoon. But it is important that you do not force through every last drop; leave the last bits of bready sediment behind in the strainer. Discard periodically. And don’t scrape the gazpacho film that’s on the bottom of the strainer into the finished gazpacho; simply clean your strainer under cold running water every few minutes, washing off the gazpacho film into the sink.
Photos: daniel julià lundgren/Flickr Creative Commons & Typically Spanish