Hot summer nights mean you want to stay cool in the kitchen and there is no better way to do that than to take a cue from the Spaniards and whip up some quick, easy gazpacho.
Gazpacho is a blended raw vegetable soup, usually with a tomato base, meant to be served cool. I find it to be a great accompaniment to grilled shrimp, fish or vegetables or it can be served as an appetizer by pouring it into small glasses that your dinner guests can easily enjoy whether they are standing or sitting.
Gazpacho originated in Andalusia of Southern Spain and is widely eaten as a way to beat the heat across Spain and even it's neighbor Portugal.
If you'd like to try making your own gazpacho at home, here is my recipe which came together in about 10 minutes- if you can imagine.
I only wanted to make a small quantity to serve as an appetizer so I used very small amounts of the ingredients, but feel free to play around with it to suit your needs!
half of a red pepper
2 inches of an english cucumber
1 green chili for heat (optional)
1/4 of a cooking onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
a splash of red or white wine vinegar or lemon juice to brighten up the flavors (about 2 tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro or green onion to garnish
I used my Vitamix to make this recipe but you can use any food processor or blender to do this.
First process the onion, garlic and green chili, adding a little water to make it into a bit of a puree. You want to process these ingredients first so that they are able to break down as small as they can - no one wants to eat a big piece of raw garlic. Once it is broken down to your liking, add it to a bowl.
In the same processor, process each of the remaining ingredients, breaking each down to various textures. while I enjoy a smooth soup, I like being able to taste the ingredients here, so be careful not to over process the cucumber and pepper. You can add a little splash of water into your blender to help the vegetables break down.
Combine all the processed vegetables into the bowl with the onion mixture and then add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Gazpacho is meant to be served chilled and the longer the vegetables are allowed to mingle, the more the flavors will combine. Pour into small bowls or glasses and garnish with cilantro, green onion or, as I did, with a cooked piece of shrimp. Enjoy!