Two things are true about the latter days of summer. The first, is that there’s a beautiful bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables ripe for the picking. The second, is that it’s too darn hot to properly cook any single one of them. Even turning on the stove to do a quick stir fry of green beans and eggplant can feel like a chore in July and August. Luckily, there are plenty of no-cook and barely-cook dishes that make the best use of summertime produce, like a classic gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a Spanish soup, and in its essence is very easy to make. For this traditional version from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, all you need is sherry vinegar, two slices of stale bread, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, water and salt. Not only is this a great way to use the best of your garden, but it’s also a delicious use of leftover bread.
To start, combine the vinegar, ice water and torn crusty country bread, and allow the bread to soak for 20 minutes. This process may sound strange, but bread is key to getting a slightly thick texture in your gazpacho.
Then, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic olive oil and soaked bread mixture in a blender and puree until smooth, seasoning with salt along the way. If you don't have bell peppers in your garden, you can also use cucumber or onion here. Or, you can go all-in on your summer dish and use all three. Refrigerate your blended soup for about two hours, and serve cold along fresh, crusty bread. It’s that easy!
Like zucchini bread, stuffed peppers, succotash and cucumber salad, gazpacho highlights the fresh flavors of summer. If you’re not doing it already, be sure to add cooking seasonally to your summertime foodie bucket list.
Step 1: Stir 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar into 1 cup of ice water, then put the 2 slices of bread into a bowl and add the mixture. Let the bread soak for 20 minutes.
Step 2: Halve 6 medium ripe tomatoes crosswise and scoop the seeds out with your finger. Holding a tomato half in the palm of your hand with the cut side facing out, gently grate it on the large holes of a 4-sided grater set into a large bowl. Discard the tomato skin when the flesh has been grated. Repeat the process with the remaining tomatoes.
Step 3: Combine tomatoes, 1 bell pepper, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, and soaked bread with any liquid that remains in a blender, then season the mixture generously with salt. Purée the mixture until smooth, then pass it through a food mill or sieve to remove any remaining tomato seeds.
Step 4: Put gazpacho into a large pitcher, cover, and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Serve in tumblers or decorative glasses with fresh bread.