Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: Gazpacho! August 24, 2010Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, random stuff, soupe du semaine.
Tags: cook's illustrated
I apparently have a bit of a problem.
Not a unique problem, mind you, but a problem all the same.
I have tomatoes.
I planted 10 tomato plants, 6 San Marzanos and 4 of various other heirlooms.
The romas are fine – I’ve been drying those and sticking them in the freezer to use when I need “sun-dried” tomatoes – I figure “oven-dried” is close enough, and probably what most of the “___-dried” tomatoes that you buy in the store are anyway.
But that doesn’t help the 4 globe tomato plants – and for those of you playing the tomato game at home, you know that 4 tomato plants is too many tomatoes to eat out of hand, and not enough to can.
A problem, that.
But then – then! – we got the July/August issue of Cook’s Illustrated (in, um, June) (before we had actual tomatoes) (work with me here), which contained a recipe for Creamy Gazpacho.
Gazpacho? That’s creamy? Really?
So I hung onto that issue, opened up to that page (plus it would fulfill our magazine project – making at least one recipe from each magazine we receive), and I waited.
I waited for TOMATO SEASON to happen. Which, um, it has, hasn’t it?
Last weekend was a market weekend, and I made myself a list.
You realize that I only go to the public market every other weekend, right? See, now that there are just the two of us, we don’t burn through fresh produce like maybe some bigger families would. And, you know, since you never know what’s going to be there, it only makes sense to grab stuff when it’s available, and, um, I do tend to, um, over-stock on fresh, seasonal produce.
And did I mention that there are only the two of us eating this stuff?
A problem, that. So we compromise, and I go to the market every other week, and Peeps puts up with a (maybe) vegetable-heavy menu those weeks.
So. The gazpacho. This is great – we start with 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes, which I have just sitting on the counter marking time!
About a third of the veggies are going to be, ultimately, held out and diced into a 1/4-inch dice, then salted and drained and used as a “garnish.”
A word about that dice: chopping a pound of tomatoes, half a cucumber, green pepper and onion into a 1/4-inch dice? Tedious. Seriously. But worth it. Really.
So we start out by rough-chopping 2 pounds of tomatoes, half a cucumber, half a green pepper, and half a red onion. add a couple of cloves of garlic, half a jalapeno, and a bit of salt (1½ teaspoons), and toss together, then set aside for a bit.
Meanwhile, dice the rest of your veggies (1 pound of tomatoes, the other half of the cucumber and pepper) into the infamous 1/4-inch dice, toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and dump them into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let the diced vegetables drain for an hour – you’ll end up with about 1/4 cup of veggie liquid in the bowl.
Now comes the interesting part. You’ll take a slice of good sandwich bread (something like Pepperidge Farms or Arnold’s – don’t bother with Wonder bread), remove the crust, and cut it into about 6 chunks, then just add the bread to the drained veggie juice to soak it up.
Toss the now-soggy bread with the coarse-chopped vegetables, then transfer the whole mess to the blender.
You may need to blend in two batches – it’s going to measure about a quart and a half. We used the Woot blender, which handled the whole thing quite, well, quite handily.
Now the bits that elevate this beyond just a cold vegetable soup.
With the blender still running, we drizzled 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil into the soup. A while back, I had the good fortune to find a truly wonderful Greek olive oil (at the public market) for an amazing price. While the oil is only a part of the whole, you’re going to want an olive oil that’s fruity and rich – it really makes a difference.
And then you’re (maybe) going to strain the soup – I say “maybe” because, honestly, that step seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, maybe it was our blender, but there just didn’t seem to be much to strain.
Once your soup is strained (or not), we stirred in a tablespoon each of red wine vinegar and dry sherry, several coarse grinds of black pepper, then we added the finely diced vegetables back into the soup for texture.
After all, it’s soup, not puree, right?
I don’t have a final photo of the soup, but trust me when I say it was as lovely as it was tasty – and vice versa.
So here’s the thing – we finished the soup, stirred in what needed to be stirred, and then we divided the final product into 4 pint jars and stashed them in the fridge for later lunches.
Later lunches which were, if I do say so myself, quite lovely.
Plus, we got rid of a whole bunch of tomatoes, besides!