Sunday, June 16, 2013

White Gazpacho

Photo by Sergio Salvador www.salvadorphoto.com
Gazpacho takes many forms, but they are all refreshing on a blazing hot day!

The gazpacho we’re familiar with comes from the Andalusian region of Spain, where the inland cities of Seville and Cordoba have summers as scorching and dry as any in New Mexico. Tomatoes and peppers are a relatively recent addition, only becoming widely accepted a few centuries after Columbus introduced them. (For a more "normal" gazpacho, see my recipe on EdibleSantaFe.com)

Gazpacho actually traces its roots even further back, to an ancient Arab soup brought to Spain by the Moors or perhaps the Romans, which contained just garlic, almonds, bread, olive oil and salt. Be sure to use excellent olive oil and aged sherry vinegar to make it truly great. It’s nice to make the gazpacho the night before, allowing the flavors to mingle.

This is a very basic gazpacho, similar to the ancient Roman version, with the addition of almonds for a gently sweet taste. It can be made any time of the year - only the garnishes depend on the season!

Almond flour might also work instead of grinding whole almonds. You could also blend a handful of white grapes into the soup if you like. It's a wonderful blank canvas for all kinds of delicious seasonal garnishes, such as fresh figs, basil, grapes, baby greens, edible flowers, or anything that strikes your fancy. You could drizzle it with basil-infused olive oil, toasted walnut oil, cumin browned butter, red pepper puree, or even a little red chile sauce. The possibilities are endless.

2 C. cubed dry bread, crusts removed
1 C. almonds
1 garlic clove
1/2 t. salt
2 C. chilled water
1/4 C. fragrant extra virgin olive oil
2 T. sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Soak the bread in just enough water to cover. After 5 to 10 minutes, when it is soft, drain and squeeze out most of the water. Combine with almonds, garlic, salt, and 1 cup chilled water in a food processor or blender. Puree until a smooth paste is formed, then drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified. Blend in vinegar and add more water as needed to make the consistency of unwhipped cream.

Add pepper and additional salt and vinegar as desired. If you like your gazpacho silky smooth, puree it once more in a blender at top speed. Chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours, to let the flavors develop. Serve with a big handful of garnish for each bowl. Serves 8.
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