Charlie’s recipes are deeply rooted in rich tradition and a long family history, which formally goes back three generations. My family, of Lebanese descent, has long honored the traditional recipes and ties to the old country, while finding joy in interpreting and integrating the “old” ways into our lives as Americans. This recipe for Gazpacho was one Mom received from someone she met on a trip to Seville, Spain. When Mom returned to the states, she promptly set about making it her own.
Course: Appetizer Cuisine: Spanish Prep Time: Cook Time: Servings: 4 (depending on size of serving vessel)
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped, seeded cucumbers
1/4 cup chopped, sweet onion, preferably yellow
1/2 cup chopped, seeded mild peppers (poblano or pasilla)
3/4 cup Spanish, pimento-stuffed olives
3/4 cup whole leaves of cilantro (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
4 cloves (1 tablespoon) chopped, fresh garlic
1/4 cup Sherry wine
2 large tablespoons (2 plus a bit extra) Sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Lime juice (approximately 4 limes)
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice of quality chili sauce (Note: I prefer Tapatio for this recipe. Tabasco has too much vinegar and clashes with the flavor profile).
In a blender or food processor, start by adding onion, bell pepper, garlic and olives and pulse lightly until ingredients are the consistency of a light chop. You may need to add a bit of the olive oil.
Add tomatoes and cilantro, and do a couple of light pulses until the consistency is a rather rustic chop. Slowly but steadily add the olive oil, wine, lime juice and vinegar, in order to avoid making tomato juice. It’s a fine line between proper consistency and juice, so this part of the process requires care. Add salt, pepper and chili sauce to taste.
Allow to chill.
Options: I don’t cook the ingredients for this recipe. If you choose to cook the tomatoes, add an extra half-pound to the ingredients to make up for the reduction. For both cooked and uncooked methods, lightly squeeze tomatoes to remove seeds and excess juice. This is extremely important if blanching, as the tomatoes soak up water. Process as instructed.
At Cafe at Adele’s, we garnished our gazpacho with Sand Hill Farm’s Queso Fresco, and served with homemade tortilla chips. Mom preferred to garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts. In Spain, it’s common to serve gazpacho with crustini and garnish with capers or chopped olives, and it’s usually seasoned with fresh coriander, which is the seed of the cilantro plant. Spaniards also often add shrimp or crab.
To serve, spoon gazpacho into individual dishes (ice cream sundae flutes are lovely), and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco, or any of the above options.
NOTE: Serve with a nice 2015 Rose or a light lager-style beer. I have found Reno’s The Depot Brewery’s Ranch Hand Ale is a perfect match.