July 28, 2009

Block Party Gazpacho

Last weekend we went to a neighborhood block party sponsored by the company who owns our building and the three other buildings next to us. It was kind of strange to have a block party in the middle of downtown, but the turn out was good and it was an opportunity to meet our neighbors. Everyone was supposed to bring a side dish to share so there were all kinds of dips and such, even homemade blueberry beer from our upstairs neighbor. I didn't make anything that fancy, just a simple gazpacho. I figured a refreshing chilled soup on a muggy summer evening would work well. Of course, it rained just a few minutes before the party was supposed to start and there was a chilly breeze coming through. But nonetheless, the soup was still delicious and so easy to make.

Traditionally, gazpacho is made with completely raw vegetable ingredients. But after surfing the web I found some recipes that actually roasted/grilled the veggies before blending them together. Probably to give the soup a deeper flavor? Well, I don't have an outdoor grill (no back yard!) so I roasted my veggies in the oven until deliciously tender and slightly charred. But to be honest, I couldn't see any distinct difference in flavor. Maybe grilling them over an open fire would do the trick? Well, if you're short on time or just don't want to bother with more steps in a recipe, skip the whole roasting/grilling thing and just follow this recipe:

(Serves 6)

3-4 lb firm, ripe tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped into small cubes, divided
3 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or tart hot sauce, like Tabasco)
up to 3/4 cup cold water (optional)
3 green onions, thinly sliced

  • If roasting in oven, preheat to 450F. Chop tomatoes & bell pepper in half, chop onion into quarters, drizzle with olive oil, S&P. Roast 10-15 minutes until tender. If grilling, prepare veggies in same manner, heat grill on high and grill until nicely charred all around. Remove skins.
  • Coarsely chop the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Place in food processor or blender along with half of the diced cucumber. Blend together until desired consistency - should not be a puree, but a coarse blend that is slightly chunky. Pour into large bowl or container.
  • Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, marjoram, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper. S&P to taste.
  • If desired, thin out the soup by pouring in cold water, a little at a time.
  • Chill the soup at least 2 hours. The longer it sits, the better the flavor. Before serving, taste the soup again and re-season to taste. Garnish with sliced green onions and rest of chopped cucumber.

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