Gaz­pa­cho: Sim­ple, so­phis­ti­cated

The Daily Herald - - FOOD - By Gabriela Lla­mas Spe­cial to The Wash­ing­ton Post

MADRID — In Spain, there are as many gaz­pa­chos as there are Spa­niards. Ev­ery fam­ily here has its own recipe with its own lit­tle changes.

I much pre­fer gaz­pa­cho made in a food mill, as that al­lows for some tex­ture, and that is the way it was made when I was young. Nowa­days it is done in a blender, but it does not turn out ex­actly the same. Machineblended gaz­pa­cho with bread and olive oil is more like a salmorejo, but with­out that soup’s creamy smooth­ness.

Al­though toma­toes and pep­pers ar­rived on our ta­bles by the 16th cen­tury, red gaz­pa­chos that used them did not be­come pop­u­lar un­til the 19th cen­tury. Big landowner fam­i­lies that had a lot of coun­try employees gen­er­ally had a “gaz­pachero,” a man who would pre­pare gaz­pa­cho for the peas­ants work­ing on their es­tates. Th­ese men made gaz­pa­cho by pound­ing the veg­etable mix­ture in an olive wood bowl, as in a mor­tar. They were very pa­tient, as it took quite some time.

The main dif­fer­ence be­tween gaz­pa­cho and some of its vari­a­tions lies in tex­ture and emul­sion. In a clas­sic Span­ish gaz­pa­cho, olive oil is sim­ply stirred in at the end; in salmorejo, porra and other soups, the olive oil is emul­si­fied, re­sult­ing in a brighter or­ange color and a smooth, creamy tex­ture. Pipir­rana’s com­po­nents are the same as those in gaz­pa­cho, but they are diced; with the ad­di­tion of a lit­tle wa­ter or ice cubes, it turns into a liq­uid salad, and the bread is served sep­a­rately, for dip­ping.

(When mak­ing salmorejo or porra, which use a greater amount of bread, it is a good idea to process the in­gre­di­ents twice, to achieve a smooth, velvety tex­ture.)

Gaz­pa­cho is a so­phis­ti­cated dish that takes to a mul­ti­tude of vari­a­tions. But with all its ver­sa­til­ity, it still re­quires a cer­tain bal­ance of com­po­nents. In par­tic­u­lar, too much sherry vine­gar or gar­lic can ruin it.

Here in Spain, gaz­pa­cho can be a drink, an ap­pe­tizer, a tapa, a dip, a sauce or sea­son­ing, a starter, a main dish, even a dessert. It is eaten at any time of the day and at any time dur­ing a meal. Noth­ing is more de­li­cious than a piece of toast smeared with a lit­tle gaz­pa­cho or salmorejo for breakfast! Gaz­pa­cho goes well with al­most ev­ery­thing but is dif­fi­cult to pair with wine. The best wines to drink with gaz­pa­cho are sher­ries (for­ti­fied wines from Jerez) and whites.

Gaz­pa­cho can be served in a glass or bowl, on a plate, as a dip, with the gar­nishes on the side or over it, but al­ways fresh or cold — never frozen, though, ex­cept for the ex­otic cre­ations of the most ad­ven­tur­ous chefs. The tra­di­tional earth­en­ware bowl is per­fect to main­tain its cold tem­per­a­ture dur­ing hot sum­mer months.

Lla­mas is a Madrid chef and cook­ing in­struc­tor at La Huerta del Em­per­ador. She re­cently pub­lished “Let’s Cook Span­ish, a Fam­ily Cook­book: Vamos a Coci­nar Es­panol, Re­c­etas Para Toda la Fa­milia” (Quarry Books, 2016).

Clas­sic Gaz­pa­cho

This might be a bit thin­ner than the gaz­pa­chos you’re used to, but its con­sis­tency is au­then­ti­cally Span­ish. Be sure to rinse the toma­toes be­fore you use them.

Make ahead: The vegeta­bles need to mar­i­nate in the re­frig­er­a­tor for a few hours and prefer­ably overnight. 2½ pounds toma­toes and their juices, hulled and chopped, plus diced toma­toes for gar­nish 1 small (3½ ounces) seeded, chopped red bell pep­per, plus diced red bell pep­per for gar­nish cup (about 3 ounces) peeled, chopped cu­cum­ber (seed­less or seeded), plus diced cu­cum­ber for gar­nish 2 cloves gar­lic, minced 1 slice day-old bread (crusts re­moved), torn into small pieces, plus small crou­tons for gar­nish (op­tional) 1½ tea­spoons kosher or sea

salt, or more as needed 1½ ta­ble­spoons sherry vine­gar, or more as needed Small pinch ground cumin

(op­tional) ½ cup ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil, plus more for op­tional driz­zling (see head­note) Diced white onion, for

gar­nish Diced green bell pep­per, for

gar­nish Com­bine the chopped toma­toes, red bell pep­per, cu­cum­ber, gar­lic and bread, if us­ing, in an earth­en­ware or glass bowl. Add the salt, vine­gar and cumin, if us­ing, toss­ing to coat. Cover and re­frig­er­ate for at least a few hours and prefer­ably overnight.

To make the soup the tra­di­tional way, mash all the in­gre­di­ents in the bowl. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a sep­a­rate bowl, then, work­ing in batches, use a flex­i­ble spat­ula to push the mashed mix­ture, in­clud­ing its liq­uid, through the strainer. Af­ter you have ex­tracted as much mois­ture as pos­si­ble from the solids, dis­card them.

Faster ways: Process the mar­i­nated mix­ture through a hand-cranked food mill (us­ing its small­est-holed screen); or place the mar­i­nated vegeta­bles and their liq­uid in a high-pow­ered blender and puree on the high­est speed for about 1½ min­utes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. (Dis­card the solids af­ter­ward for both of those meth­ods, too.)

Stir the oil into the strained gaz­pa­cho. Taste; add salt and/or vine­gar, as needed. Trans­fer to an air­tight con­tainer; re­frig­er­ate un­til ready to use.

Serve chilled, with the gar­nishes on the side - diced tomato, cu­cum­ber, onion, and red and green pep­per; and crou­tons, if us­ing — for ev­ery­one to help them­selves. Driz­zle with a lit­tle oil, if de­sired.

4 serv­ings (5½ cups). Nu­tri­tion per serv­ing: 320 calo­ries, 4 g pro­tein, 18 g car­bo­hy­drates, 29 g fat, 4 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mg choles­terol, 480 mg sodium, 4 g di­etary fiber, 9 g su­gar

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