What to Do when All Your Vegetables Ripen at the Same Time
In not too many more weeks, summer gardens will begin producing, and farmers markets around the country will be burgeoning with beautiful, locally grown fresh vegetables. If you are looking for a wise use for your fresh produce that is not only delicious, but healthful and very low calorie, make a batch of gazpacho. It will be a welcome addition to a summer lunch or supper.
Gazpacho has ancient origins extending back to Arab culture, going up to today where it's commonly associated as a regional dish from the southern Spanish region of Andalucía.
This particular recipe comes closest to duplicating the first, and best, gazpacho I ever sampled. Depending upon the size of the vegetables you use, this recipe makes around 12 cups. And since it refrigerates well, you can enjoy it for several days. Should you be counting calories, nutritional information is listed for this recipe in Grandma's Cookbook.
You will be happy to know, though, that it weighs in at only about 61 calories and less than 3 grams of fat per one-cup serving, if you can limit yourself to one cup. But with those statistics, you can have two cups and not feel guilty.
So here's the recipe. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. All you have to do is a little rough chopping.
- 46-ounce can tomato juice (large can)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
- 2 scallions or green onions, chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1-1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried whole tarragon
- 1 teaspoon dried whole basil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Tabasco sauce to taste (anywhere from a few to several drops, but don't use more or you'll overpower the other flavors)
First of all, use the freshest, best vegetables you can find. And don't try to get by with reconstituted lemon and lime juice. Use fresh.
Next, there are some ingredients in good gazpacho that can be omitted, and you will still have a dish that can be called gazpacho. You can, for instance, get along without the basil. If you don't have any tarragon on hand, you can use (in fact, this is really quite good) tarragon vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. And although I practically have to bite my tongue in saying this, you can substitute parsley for cilantro if you are one of those unfortunate people who just cannot abide the taste of cilantro.
Additionally, you can lower the sodium per serving from 332 mg. to 237 mg. by omitting the salt. That's the way I make it, and I don't miss the salt. But your own personal preferences should rule here. You can mix it up, taste it, and add salt if you like.
Once you have assembled all your ingredients in a very large non-metallic bowl, stir the mixture well. Then begin putting it through the blender or food processor in batches. Just pulse a few times. You don't want to purée this; let it retain a bit of chunky texture.
You will probably need your largest plastic container to hold and refrigerate the gazpacho. It should be refrigerated for at least two hours before serving.
Restaurants, especially those in northern states, have begun serving gazpacho with croutons and sour cream and whatever else they can dream up. For the purist, however, no such gilding of the lily is necessary or desired.
Finally, I don't always wait until summer to make gazpacho. As long as I can get halfway decent tomatoes and cucumbers, I will make a batch if I get my taste up for it. A bowl of gazpacho with a nice piece of French or Italian bread is a terrific light lunch.