Gazpacho!

Last night I made — well, put the finishing touches on — homemade gazpacho. This is a two-day recipe or, at the very least, one that takes a full day because you’ll want to combine all the ingredients and then let them sit before puréeing them in a food processor. But it’s worth the wait!

This recipe came from a cooking class that a friend and I attended at our local Mon Ami Gabi restaurant. We watched (and then were served) gazpacho, BLT salad with jalapeño bacon, and berry-brioche bread pudding, all made by Chef Phil who walked us through the preparations step by step. (Here he is, midway through the BLT salad prep.)

You’ll need the following for the gazpacho: one medium baguette; one medium green and one medium red bell pepper; 1/2 medium cucumber; 4 vine-ripe tomatoes (as fresh and aromatic as you can find); 1 cup tomato juice; 1 garlic clove, peeled; 1/2 teaspoon sweet pimentón or Spanish paprika (regular Hungarian paprika is not/not a substitute); 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar; 1 pinch sugar; 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.

Slice the crusts off the baguette, starting with the two ends and then trimming each side in turn.

Tear the bread into pieces (you’ll want about two ounces in all) and toss into a large bowl or pan. (I saved the crusts and will use them to make either herbed croutons or bread crumbs later.)

Cut the bell peppers into a medium dice. Chef demonstrated the method he uses (which was new to me but I’ll be using it from now on). First, slice off the top of the pepper, then cut each side off in turn, rotating until nothing is left but the core. Here’s what it will look like:

This will give you four relatively flat pieces of pepper. Remove the seeds and any lingering white pieces from the core.

Chef explained that in professional cooking, the most important element in chopping things is to make sure that the pieces are all pretty much the same size. This method of trimming peppers will give you that. Now, slice the pieces, then chop (and you’ll see what I mean!).

Incredibly easy and quick! Toss the pepper dice into the pan with the bread.

Peel the cucumber, then scoop out the seeds from the middle.

Cut one-half of the cucumber into slices, then dice (wrap and save the rest for another dish). The cucumber will add freshness to the gazpacho.

Toss the diced cucumber into the bowl. Now wash and core the tomatoes one by one, then slice.

Chop into a dice and toss into the bowl on top of the rest.

Crush the garlic clove with a knife (I used a butter knife to be safe).

Mince the crushed garlic, then add to the bowl.

Add the sea salt, pinch of sugar, and pimentón to the bowl. Chef explained that pimentón is a smoked Spanish chile pepper ground into powder that adds depth of flavor to dishes. It is not/not the same as the typical paprika in grocery stores (the taste is different).  I ended up ordering some from a store in Chicago and got both sweet and hot versions.

Now stir in the tomato juice and white wine vinegar.

Cover and let sit overnight (or, if you’re making this in the morning, until the late afternoon). Once it has marinated and settled, pour it into a food processor to blend until smooth, about 30 seconds (longer, if you want a finer purée).

Taste and adjust the seasonings to whatever you’d like. I added a bit more salt and pimentón, both sweet and hot varieties, to the gazpacho. Serve with a garnish of pepper and cucumber dice. We paired this with a Virginia Viognier (at the cooking class, it was paired with a French Pinot Blanc from Alsace).

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, wine pairings

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