Casey Angelova of the food blog, Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria, is sponsoring another cultural cuisine event. This time it’s honoring Portugal on their National Day. The Portuguese call it “Dia de Portugal.” It’s also a day honoring their national hero, Luís de Camões, for he’s the author of an epic poem, Os Lusíadas, that tells the history of Portuguese exploration.
A few centuries ago, Portugal had vast empires in Africa and Latin America. With a foundation of Mediterranean flavors, it’s a cuisine with a global influence. Tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla and chilies from the “New World” are now important ingredients in many cultures, including Portugal.
Before the addition of Latin America flavors, Gazpacho, or as the Portuguese call it, Gaspacho, was a cold soup made of cucumbers, stale bread, onions, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Later, the addition of tomatoes and chilies became another variation that made it sweet and spicy. Traditionally, this soup is made with a mortar and pestle, but a food processor or a blender simplifies the process. Some people strain and discard the solids, but I like the slight lumpy texture of puree soup. There are many adaptations to this soup, because the ingredients are easily substituted. Several years ago, I made a Latin American-inspired tomatillo version with pumpkin seed pesto swirled into it. For this version, the Shrimp and Cucumber salad was added to make this dish a little heartier. Including a roughly chopped salad is a great introduction to people who prefer warmer soups with texture.
Made with raw ingredients, Gazpacho is a tasty soup to make when a garden is overflowing with summer vegetables. It’s best enjoyed at room temperature with a slight chill on an extremely hot summer day.
Place bread in the food processor to turn into crumbs. Don’t worry if it’s not uniform in size, but it should be smaller pieces of crumbs. Place the rest of the ingredients into the food processor, including the tomatoes. It is recommended that the vegetables be pureed in batches and mix together in a larger bowl.
Place the soup in the refrigerator to chill and marinate the flavors.
Ladle soup into a bowl and top with the Shrimp and Cucumber Salad
Enjoy at room temperature with a slight chill.
* Special Note: Adjust the amount of sugar and tomato paste according to the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Shrimp and Cucumber Salad
Place all vegetables and shrimp, excluding parsley and garlic, into a bowl.
Use the rest of the ingredients to whisk into a vinaigrette. Pour over the vegetables and shrimp. Gently toss together. Let marinate for at least an hour.