|Chunky Gazpacho with Grilled Bread|
By the time the weather man came on the morning news, I was drifting back into a nice deep second-sleep when I heard him say something about a heatwave, record breaking temperatures and a dire warning to stay cool. Then I heard him say 117 degrees and I sat straight up and stared at the television. I wasn't dreaming; he was forecasting that we'd break our record this weekend, which means it's going to get hotter than 117 degrees outside.
That's not cool.
I turned to Mr. B and I said, "We're in the soup." He gave me his standard reply, the cocked eyebrow and half opened eye; his nonverbal way of saying, "What the hell is that supposed to mean." He kept his other eye firmly shut, clearly trying to get a few more minutes of peaceful sleep. But, that wasn't about to happen. Not only was it going to be hotter than anything I'd ever experienced, but it was our anniversary. We were about to have another adventure!
People don't cook when it's that hot. Even standing over a BBQ is out of the question. It appeared that for the next several days, the only things we'd be eating aside from cold cuts would be things that could either be prepared in a blender or an ice cream maker. Even the microwave was out of question since it had decided to die the previous day. So, as I mentally sifted through the catalogue of cold delights that I could whip up, I thought about a summertime favorite—gazpacho—which has a very special and sentimental meaning for Mr. B and I.
On our first anniversary, which for those non-tradiotionalists, is the paper anniversary, we bought a pair of plane tickets to Spain. What fun it was to eat the top of our wedding cake (which suffered from serious freezer burn) washed down with a couple of beers in an airport bar while waiting for our flight.
I've many fond memories of that adventure, but my favorite by far was the many wonderful gazpachos we had along the way.
Here's one of my favorite versions. It's garnished with chunks of crispy vegetables. It will be the perfect meal for our impending heatwave and it'll give Mr. B and I an opportunity to celebrate getting to be in the soup together!
8 Ripe Tomatoes
3-4 Roasted Red Peppers (Secret Ingredient)
1 Large Cucumber, Peeled and Seeded
1Small Clove of Garlic
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Garnishes (Diced Roasted Yellow Pepper, Finely Chopped Red Onion, Diced Cucumber, Toasted Bread, Olive Oil)
1. Chop tomatoes and puree in the blender along with the garlic. I don't seed my tomatoes because I like to use a mesh sieve to extract the pulp and to thicken the soup since I don't use bread in the recipe, but rather as a garnish.
2. Toss in the cucumber and the roasted red pepper and puree until blended.
3. Turn the blender on low and add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of olive oil and the red wine vinegar (I use 1/4 cup, but you can use more depending on your own taste.
4. Place a wire mesh sieve over a bowl and in small batches, pour in the gazpacho. Using a wooden spoon, stir the soup and press the pulp (gently; tomato seeds create bitterness) until all of the liquid is in the bowl; discard the pulp (okay--I don't do this; I toast some bread and spread it on and eat a 'gazpacho' garbage sandwich, but that's just me.)
5. Chill soup for at least 4-6 hours and as most soups, it really is better the next day.
6. To eat: ladle into shallow bowls and top with garnishes; serve with crusty toasted bread and a serve with either a nice Spanish (duh) or French (yum) dry rose'.