Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gazpacho with Basil and Parsley

Bowl of Gazpacho Garnished with Parsley
Refreshing and Healthful

Recipe by Robin

After the delicious results of preparing cousin Sheila’s Mexican-style Gazpacho, I wanted to find a more traditional Spanish recipe. However, the original gazpacho turns out to be an entirely different soup, dating back to Greek and Roman civilizations. Its main components were bread, olive oil, water, vinegar, and garlic. Or perhaps the Moors brought a similar gazpacho, sans vinegar, to Andalucia. In any case, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers weren’t added until they arrived from the New World in the 16th century. Given the bounty of these veggies at my house, sticking with the ancient tradition was not an option. As usual in the gardener’s kitchen, necessity was the mother of invention.

Soft and Firm Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, and Onion
Fresh Veggies: Just add Tomato Broth and Herbs
Part of the success of this dish is a result of using fresh tomato juice. Many recipes work better when seeds and liquid are removed while chopping the tomatoes. You can strain the “left behinds” and accumulate your own tomato juice in the fridge. If you dry tomatoes, you’ll save up plenty of tomato juice in no time. If you don’t have DIY juice, using an unsalted, bright red juice in a bottle will give you best results. If you use salted tomato juice, cut back on the amount of salt that I used.

Bowl of Gazpacho with Parsley, Basil, and Green Onions on top
Adding the Herbs
Because I had both soft dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes and firmer Heirlooms on hand, I was able to create interesting taste and texture variety in the soup. To enhance this difference, I peeled the soft tomatoes but not the Heirlooms.  Dry farmed tomatoes have tough skins, so it’s worth the effort to remove them. The bit of added sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes as well as balancing the lemon and lime juice.

Parsley and basil are more traditional Spanish ingredients than the cilantro in Mexican-style Gazpacho. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean. Basil, however, originally comes from India, where it has been cultivated for 5000 years. It didn’t arrive in Europe until the 8th century, during the time of Charlemagne. And so I offer you a recipe that is only partially traditional, but mostly designed around late summer  harvests in Santa Cruz. Enjoy!

Garlic, Basil, and Parsley on Cutting Board with Gazpacho in Background
Parsley, Basil and Garlic are Key
Gazpacho with Basil and Parsley
serves about 12

2½ lbs. soft ripe Early Girl tomatoes
1½ lbs. ripe heirloom tomatoes
2 cucumbers ~1 lb.
1 large green bell pepper ~8 oz.
1 - 2 sweet red peppers ~6 oz.
3 – 4 stalks celery
1 smallish red onion 
1 jalapeno pepper
3 cloves garlic
5½ cups tomato, juice or more
7 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. lime juice
1½ tsp. sugar (to taste)
1½ tsp. salt (to taste)
1 cup chopped basil
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped green onions
3 tbsp. olive oil

Prepare soft tomatoes: To remove skins, cut a shallow X on each tomato with a knife and plunge into boiling water for about 1 minute, until skin starts to loosen. Remove with slotted spoon to ice water. Remove all tomatoes from boiling water to ice water within two minutes.

When cool enough to handle, core tomatoes and slip/cut off skins. Remove seeds and liquid and cut into ¼ - ½ inch dice. Strain liquid from seeds and add liquid to cut tomatoes. You will have about 2½ cups. Discard seeds. Chill tomatoes while preparing other veggies.

Prepare firm tomatoes: Core tomatoes and remove seeds and liquid, reserving them. Dice into ½ inch pieces. Strain liquid from seeds and add liquid to cut tomatoes. You will have about 2½ cups. 

Chop other veggies: Peel cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with spoon and dice into ½ inch pieces. You will have about 3 cups.

Core green bell pepper and sweet red peppers. Remove seeds and membranes. Dice into ¼ - ½ inch pieces. You will have about 4 cups total.

Chop celery into ¼ - ½ inch pieces. You will have about 1½ cups.

Peel and core red onion and dice into ¼  - ½ inch pieces. You will have about 1¼ cups.

Avoid touching jalapeno directly by wearing a latex glove or holding the jalapeno with fork while working. Cut top off jalapeno and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the membranes and seeds from one half and discard. Mince the remaining jalapeno parts. NOTE: this makes a well-balanced, moderately spicy gazpacho. Use fewer or more of the seeds and membranes if you like it mild or extra spicy.

Peel garlic and run through garlic press.

Stir all veggies together, including chilled soft tomatoes, in large bowl.

Closeup of Gazpacho Anatomy

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