Cook N Bake Spanish Series: Gazpacho

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Spanish Series - Gazpacho

This week we are in Andalusia, in the South of Spain, where Gazpacho was born as one of the simplest Mediterranean dishes that has become nowadays one of the trendiest dishes around the world.

Gazpacho is a word of uncertain origin: maybe from the Mozarab caspa, which means “fragments”, or from the Hebrew gazaz, “break into pieces”. Regardless of how the word originated, this healthy, refreshing dish seems to have been around forever, probably imported to Spain as an Arab soup of bread with olive oil, water and garlic (Spain was part of the Islamic world in the Middle Ages). Eventually the Romans added vinegar, and the Spanish added salt.

Gazpacho can be prepared with so many different ingredients, and garnishes can vary too. The typical recipe includes stale bread, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, olive oil, salt, vinegar, wine, onion and garlic. These are all peeled and blended together, but some of the chopped pieces are served aside so that people can add them to the soup as garnish by themselves.
Cordoba, one of the cities of Andalusia, serves a gazpacho called salmorejo, with chopped hard boiled egg and ham on top. In Malaga, gaspacho is called ajoblanco and it’s made of bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, salt and vinegar, often served with melon and grapes.

The traditional recipe is a perfect Summer meal, but can also be enjoyed throughout the year as a side soup. Here is a recipe from Martha Stewart Recipes of how to make a delicious and refreshing Gazpacho, and croutons to go with.

Ingredients (6 servings):

2 cups cubed crustless day-old bread
2 garlic cloves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably beefsteak, seeded
1 four-inch piece English cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 one-inch-thick slice green bell pepper
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup cold water, plus more for soaking
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup torn rustic bread
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Gazpacho:
Cover bread with cold water, and let soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cover garlic with water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes; drain.
Transfer garlic to a blender. Squeeze excess liquid from bread, and transfer bread to blender. Add 2 teaspoons salt, the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, and vinegars. Puree until smooth. With machine running, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until emulsified. Blend in cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate gazpacho until chilled, at least 3 hours (or up to 1 day).
For the croutons:
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add bread, and fry, tossing constantly, until pale gold and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bread to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide chilled gazpacho among 6 bowls. Drizzle with oil, and top with croutons just before serving.



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