Allez 'zpacho!

July 30, 2010


Author Notes: What could be better on a hot summer evening than a refreshing gazpacho? You use the freshest tomatoes and cucumber and liquefy them to something that’s almost a beverage. But let me emphasize the “summer” part. For better or worse it’s now possible to buy heirloom tomatoes any time of the year. I don’t care what heritage of seed is being marketed, the tomato is a summer fruit. But Americans seem to require tomatoes and melons no matter what the season. The supermarket chains have caught on to this big time so they can sell you misshapen “heirloom” in December that has no flavor, just a texture like wood pulp for $5.99 per pound. Is that actually desirable to you? Enjoy the good things when they are at their peak. Buy them from the growers at your farmers market when they are ripe and delicious and haven’t been reposing in a room filled with ethelyne gas. In choosing your tomatoes for this recipe, no matter what the variety, select ones that share a consistent color if only for presentation purposes.pierino

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs heirloom tomatoes of your choice, dark red preferred
  • 1/2 of 1 English cucumber, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton de la vera, or piment d’esplette (Spanish paprika)
  • 1/4 cup good quality Spanish sherry vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil, such as Columela or Pons
  • Generous pinch of saffron
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 2 or 3 chunks of day old bread, crust removed, softened with water
  • sea salt

Directions

  1. Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Cut them into large chunks
  2. Peel and chop the cucumber. Roughly chop the garlic
  3. Soak the saffron in a very small bowl with just enough water to cover
  4. Place all of the ingredients, including the water from the saffron into a powerful blender. Begin by pulsing a few times and then up the speed to full on liquefy. Strain into a bowl (don’t skip this step!) and refrigerate for at least one to two hours. The purpose of the straining step is to remove any seeds and give you a smooth texture
  5. Presentation: you may need to use a whisk briefly if the oil has begun to separate. Taste for salt. I like to ladle the “soup” into glass coffee mugs or something similar. Do provide spoons, but using mugs or glasses allows your guests to drink the lees in their cup.
  6. Note to cooks: I use the pimenton and saffron to brighten up the flavors. Some Spanish cooks will use cumin for this reason. I like a “cooler” summery flavor.
  7. Variation; omit pimenton and saffron and substitute one jigger of Pernod diluted with ¼ cup cold water.
  8. *The qualifty of the vinegar really matters. I prefer Cepa Vieja "Reserva".

More Great Recipes:
Soup|Vegetable|Saffron|Vinegar|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|Summer|Vegan|Vegetarian|Appetizer

Reviews (22) Questions (0)

22 Reviews

lorigoldsby June 27, 2011
Could not agree with you more! When I am tempted in December, I ask myself, will I just end up being disappointed? The answer is always the same, so I wait. Soon, soon...I CAN wait because it will be worth it to try this!
 
boulangere June 25, 2011
Amen.
 
Panfusine June 25, 2011
Love the nomenclature as always pierino... 'go'zpacho??? !<br />
 
Author Comment
pierino August 4, 2010
And thank you as well, Ms. dymnyno. I do indeed take a minimalist approach but I must add that I don't "create". It's all been done before by better cooks than me. I study and intrepret and try to rely on my memory for what goes with what. Italy taught me that you should just let a few key ingredients sing out their flavors. Spain is similar, except that Ferran Adria DOES create stuff that's completely new. Maybe I should have thought of a gazpacho espuma??? But drbabs in her photo nailed the presentation.
 
dymnyno August 3, 2010
I have been admiring this photo and the minimalist that pierino is, seldom do we see how beautiful his creations look.
 
drbabs August 4, 2010
Thank you! One of the many things I have been working on is how to style the food I make in a way that shows it off....I'm a total amateur--all your compliments mean a lot to me.
 
Author Comment
pierino August 3, 2010
Thank you again DrBabs! That is a beautiful shot, and that is exactly the way I would serve it up myself.
 
Author Comment
pierino August 2, 2010
Thanks DrBabs. I spent most of last week traveling and didn't really have opportunity to shoot one myself. I was out in Phoenix and spent 4 or 5 days craving gazpacho.
 
Lizthechef August 3, 2010
drbabs took a great shot of your lovely recipe, didn't she?
 
drbabs August 3, 2010
Why, thank you,Liz!
 
drbabs August 2, 2010
I uploaded a photo.
 
drbabs August 2, 2010
oops! maybe not! site seems to be down--I'll try again later.
 
drbabs August 1, 2010
Yes, I could see that when the soup got cold that the bread was still there, but in a really pleasing thickening way. I also used a coarse strainer because when I started with the fine strainer, only really thin liquid was coming through (plus it was a major pain--the coarse strainer worked really well). I really love the soup--will make it the rest of the summer I'm sure--and I hope A&M try it this week because I think you have a fabulous recipe that really celebrates the tomato.
 
Author Comment
pierino August 1, 2010
Well thank you very much ma'am. I'm glad you liked it. I knew I should have made the strainer step more explicit right from the start, so your experience confirmed that thought. I sometimes assume too much. At least the food52 experience is teaching me some discipline.
 
drbabs July 31, 2010
pierino, I have a question for you. I just made this. (It's wonderful--I am having a hard time waiting till it gets cold to eat it.) But here's my question: since you end up straining out most of the bread, what it its purpose? Thanks.
 
Author Comment
pierino July 31, 2010
The bread gluten acts to thicken the gazpacho a bit, but IT IS TOTALLY OKAY TO LEAVE OUT THE BREAD. It's just a nod to how things are done in Spain (depending on which part of Spain). For straining this soup I would use a tamis as opposed to a really fine sieve, because all you want to do is separate any seeds or skins. Do let the soup get cold. That really matters in the same way that vichysoisses must be served cold.
 
Author Comment
pierino July 30, 2010
Thank you all for your comments. With the bread and seeds and everything the straining step is important, so be patient. Where I live now it get's as hot as Spain, so this is a refreshing cool down first course.
 
SallyCan July 30, 2010
Appreciate your thoughts on summer tomatoes, Pierino. I don't bother with a tomato (or a melon) if it's not summer! And I'll add that not all heirloom varieties are all that great - some are better than others - some don't taste all that great, and others are damn near impossible to grow. That said, as a gardener with an organic little kitchen garden, I have to say that there is something to be said for some of these new hybrid tomatoes that are disease resistant, high yield, and tasty too.
 
Lizthechef July 30, 2010
Love the saffron -
 
drbabs July 30, 2010
pierino, I LOVE this!! I cannot wait to make it (and I have a wonderful little Italian farmer just down the road who grows the BEST tomatoes)! LOVE!
 
dymnyno July 30, 2010
Such a simple recipe....but packed with lots of sophisticated flavors!! I am with you... heirloom tomatoes are strictly a summer fruit if you care about flavor.
 
thirschfeld July 30, 2010
I am liking this one especially with the bread. Should give it a really nice texture. Bravo pierino.