First Gazpacho of the Summer!

I look forward to this every year. I’ve been eating this since I was a kid – my mom (the wonderful adoptive mom who raised me, not the equally wonderful birth mom with whom I share this very blog, for those of you who know the whole story) used to make it religiously. We called it “liquid salad”, and though that makes it sound a bit less appetizing than it actually is, it’s a fair description of the raw veggie content. I can’t think of a more healthy recipe, for the life of me, and it’s one that can be dressed up with any number of garnishes. Also? EASY. This is my own definitive version, having tweaked it for literally decades now.

GAZPACHO

6 cups tomato juice, divided
2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 green and 1/2 red bell peppers (or just one of either)
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice and zest of 1 lime
dash or two (or three) hot pepper sauce (to taste)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine about 2 cups of the juice in the food processor with all the vegetables and the cilantro. Blitz until smooth! You could do this in the blender, and indeed I have, but I actually like it to have a bit of ‘texture’. Don’t get me wrong – it should not be chunky or anything even near it, but I like being able to see and feel a bit of the fiber, if that makes sense. Anyway, pour contents into a large bowl, and add remaining juice and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, making sure oil has been well-incorporated. Chill for at least 2-3 hours, if not more.

Then it’s ALL about the garnishes. I prefer a combination of finely diced cucumbers, peppers, and carrots, but many other things are great. Scallions, chives, more cilantro leaves, additional diced tomato  or halved grape tomatoes – all fabulous and still uberhealthy. We always used to add croutons when I was a kid, also an option. And in recent years I’ve been adding carefully diced avocado, too, which adds a wonderful creaminess

All in all, a cooling yet zesty addition to any summer grillfest, picnic, or ordinary dinner.

— posted by Anne

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