June 9, 2009

Gazpacho Andaluz


The Cold Comfort of Gazpacho

Cool, vaguely acidic, and faintly sweet, gazpacho (sometimes spelled gaspacho) is the definitive Andalusian dish, and—with the possible exception of paella—Spain's most famous culinary export. The word itself apparently derives from the Spanish caspa, which once had the meaning of leftovers or crumbs (the soup may well have been made originally with overripe vegetables or vegetable scraps), but now, somewhat disconcertingly, means dandruff.

There are a number of variations on gazpacho. The famous gazpacho blanco, or ajo blanco, of Málaga is white, made with garlic, bread, and almonds, and garnished with green grapes; a tomato-based version from Granada is scented with cumin; still another one involves fava beans. All gazpachos, though, seem to have at least three elements in common: bread, oil, and vinegar. Unless, of course, you're in Alicante province, where gaspatxos (a singular noun, despite the s) is a hearty game stew that has nothing at all to do with the Andalusian versions. But the traditional, tomato-based Andalusian gazpacho is the one you want to find on your table on a hot day or a warm evening. It's salad in a blender; summer in a bowl—or in a glass, since you can even quaff it like a beverage. ¡Salud!

Gazpacho Andaluz
Serves 4
  • 1 slice country-style bread, about 1" thick, crusts removed
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
Optional garnishes:
  • 1⁄2 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1⁄2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 cup 1⁄2" croutons
  • 1⁄2 small white onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced
Soak bread for 1⁄2 hour in a small bowl in water to cover. Squeeze out moisture with your hands.
Purée bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and 1 cup water in a food processor until very smooth.
Push purée through a coarse sieve with the back of a wooden spoon. Gazpacho should be fairly thin. Season to taste with salt.
Chill gazpacho in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning. Serve in individual glasses, or in soup bowls with garnishes on the side.

This article was first published in Saveur Magazine - Issue #7


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