‘Ugly’ toma­toes are beau­ti­ful in grilled gaz­pa­cho

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By EL­IZ­A­BETH KARMEL As­so­ci­ated Press

Gaz­pa­cho is a Western fa­vorite in the sum­mer and one of the best ways to use those de­li­cious but “ugly” toma­toes that are burst­ing with fla­vor but may not be pretty enough to slice.

Some­times, tomato ven­dors at farm­ers’ mar­kets will sell the “dented” toma­toes at half price. Snap them up — they’re per­fect for gaz­pa­cho and tomato sauce.

The chilled sum­mer soup that orig­i­nated in south­ern Spain is gen­er­ally made from raw toma­toes, cu­cum­bers, onions and gar­lic.

Th­ese days there are count­less vari­a­tions of gaz­pa­cho (white gaz­pa­cho, any­one?) but my fa­vorite one is made with grilled veg­eta­bles and the ad­di­tion of wa­ter­melon and mint. The grilling of the veg­eta­bles adds a smoky el­e­ment that makes the soup taste more like soup and less like veg­etable juice to me. The wa­ter­melon adds a touch of sweet­ness and the mint perks ev­ery­thing up.

I don’t want to lose the essence of the gaz­pa­cho so the veg­eta­bles are grilled over in­di­rect heat only un­til they are crisp ten­der. The grill is pre­heated on high and the burn­ers un­der­the veg­eta­bles are turned off af­ter you place the var­i­ous in­gre­di­ents on the grill so the wa­ter­melon and some of the veg­eta­bles will get grill marks on one side— this will con­trib­ute to the light smoky fla­vor.

The best part is that once the veg­eta­bles are grilled, you place ev­ery­thing in a blender and puree away. A lit­tle topqual­ity olive oil, red-wine vine­gar and fresh mint and basil are all you need to fin­ish this sim­ple sum­mer soup.

Grilled tomato gaz­pa­cho with wa­ter­melon and mint

Start to fin­ish: 45 min­utes, plus time to chill Serves 4-6 GrillingMethod: In­di­rect/ Medi­umHeat 4 large ripe toma­toes 1 yel­low or red bell pep­per 1 large English seed­less cu­cum­ber 1 sweet (Vi­dalia) onion 2-3 cloves gar­lic 4 scal­lions 2 large slices of wa­ter­melon 3 to 4 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil, plus more for brush­ing 3 to 4 ta­ble­spoons red wine vine­gar 4 ta­ble­spoons chopped fresh basil and mint or other fa­vorite herbs Kosher salt, to taste Freshly ground black pep­per, to taste Gar­nish: 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche 3 ta­ble­spoons chopped basil and mint Pre­heat grill with all burn­ers on high. Stem the toma­toes and cut in half. Core and seed the pep­per. Peel and halve the cu­cum­ber length­wise. Peel the onion and gar­lic and cut the roots off the scal­lions. Place veg­eta­bles bot­tom-side down on the cook­ing grate. You can place the gar­lic in­side the pep­per, or in a dis­pos­able drip pan. Brush all the veg­eta­bles and the wa­ter­melon lightly with olive oil and sprin­kle with salt. Place all veg­eta­bles in the cen­ter of the cook­ing grate and turn the burn­ers off un­der the food. Be sure to close the lid of the grill. Grill over in­di­rect heat un­til hot and be­gin­ning to soften, about 15 min­utes. You want them to still be crisp. Trans­fer the veg­eta­bles to a plat­ter to cool, re­serv­ing any juices that col­lect. Chop veg­eta­bles into large chunks if nec­es­sary and place with oil, vine­gar, herbs and sea­son­ings in a blender. Blend at high speed un­til smooth. Add vine­gar, salt, and pep­per to taste. If the gaz­pa­cho seems too thick, thin with a lit­tle more olive oil. Add more vine­gar to taste. The gaz­pa­cho should be highly sea­soned. Chill un­til serv­ing. La­dle gaz­pa­cho into shal­low bowls. Gar­nish each with a dol­lop of sour cream or creme fraiche, and a sprin­kling of chopped herbs. Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 146 calo­ries; 68 calo­ries from fat; 8 g fat (1 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 0mg choles­terol; 93mg­sodium; 19 g car­bo­hy­drate; 4 g fiber; 12 g su­gar; 3 g pro­tein. El­iz­a­beth Karmel is a bar­be­cue and Amer­i­can South­ern foods ex­pert, a chef and au­thor of three books, in­clud­ing Tam­ing the Flame.

RICHARD DREW / AP

Tomato and wa­ter­melon gaz­pa­cho from a recipe by El­iz­a­beth Karmel.

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