SPICY GAZPACHO

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I found these vintage seed labels at simplyfrenchvintage several years ago.  I bought some, thinking I might use them for . . .  I have no idea.  Craft fail.

You won’t find many of these vegetables at our local farmers markets this time of year. Last week’s “seasonal selections” at the farmers market were eggplant, peas, cucumbers, peppers, basil, okra, melons, and onions.  Even Justin Yu, of the nationally-renowned Oxheart, conceded that it can be quite a challenge to create a seasonal menu with local produce this time of year in Houston.

This week it’s been over 100 degrees here.  It’s hot.  We haven’t had much rain, but Houston has a faint yellow haze these days from a sand storm in the Sahara Desert.  It’s definitely too hot to cook.  Maybe even too hot to chew.

It’s days like this when a cold spicy gazpacho is splendid.  What’s more, with the exception of the tomatoes, the key  ingredients can still be found at the farmers market:

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 Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, red bell peppers

Inspired by the pretty vintage labels and the dog days of summer, I hunted around for a long time for a gazpacho recipe.  I don’t care for the ones that rely on tomato juice as a base.  The liquid in this recipe, adapted from one by Lynette Hawkins of Giacomo’s that appeared in the Houston Chronicle a few years ago, uses the liquid that comes from macerating the vegetables.  It is worth it to hunt down sherry vinegar, and it really adds to the flavor of the soup.  It’s icy cold and spicy and smooth and so good on a hot summer evening.  If you can’t stand the heat . . . make gazpacho!

SPICY GAZPACHO
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Ingredients
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, onion, garlic, and serrano chile in a 4-quart container. Add 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and toss to combine. Add the bread pieces and toss again. Allow ingredients to macerate at least 30 minutes.
  2. Puree the tomato mixture in a blender in two batches. For each batch, blend for 30 seconds, then drizzle in ¼ cup olive oil with motor running. Blend until completely smooth, then transfer each batch to a 4-quart container. Stir in vinegar, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if necessary, to taste. Chill completely in refrigerator, and serve cold.

 
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Tomatoes and cucumbers and onions, oh my!
004Sherry vinegar adds great flavor
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Keeping cool with icy cold gazpacho

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