May 10, 2010

Trying it Out: Basil Gazpacho Recipe

When I got back from my trip to San Diego last week, I couldn't bear the heat in Richmond. I didn't want to cook, I didn't want to go out to dinner, and I certainly didn't want to go hungry. So I decided to get over myself and make my first cold soup of the season.

I wanted to try using up a bunch of the basil that I had bought recently, so I decided to adapt my father's gazpacho recipe and try adding less tomato juice, more vegetable stock, and some basil-infused olive oil.

(Administrative sidenote: I'm just now realizing that I've never shared the gazpacho recipe that I inherited from my father, which is a terrible shame. I'll have to post the original soon, since what I'm writing about now is a modification of that one.)

You also need to know that I had one of the best gazpachos of my life last summer at the Arbor Grille, one of the restaurants at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. The reason you need to know this is that it was totally different from the thick, hearty, chunky gazpacho that my dad makes, which I'd always assumed was the standard. This one had a very thin broth and very mild flavors, but was delicious in its own right. This, in turn, made me curious about other iterations of gazpacho that I could try on my own. Et voila! The basil gazpacho idea was born.

It turned out really well, although way more mild than the gazpacho I'd grown up eating since there was no habanero pepper in it. This is a nice variation, though, and it was a perfect way to avoid the aggressive heat.

Basil Gazpacho Recipe
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 orange pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato or vegetable juice
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. First, blanch the tomatoes by cooking them in boiling water until the skins split. Remove and discard the skins, then seed and chop the tomatoes.

2. While you're preparing the tomatoes, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized pan. Once the oil is hot, add the basil and reduce the heat to medium, allowing it to cook in the oil for 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn it; you'll know it's done when the basil becomes extremely fragrant and starts to crisp up. Remove the oil from heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes before using it.

3. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, tomato juice, vegetable stock, basil-infused olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and some chopped basil until it reaches the consistency you like. Another option is to reserve 1/3 of the vegetables so that you have some crunch mixed in with the pureed soup.

4. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for a while, then adjust the salt and pepper to suit your taste. Serve with chopped up pieces of garlic bread, sour cream, chunks of avocado, or whatever else sounds good to you. I added a few of the crispy basil leaves to the top of my soup, and it was delicious.

This gazpacho has absolutely zero heat, so if you're looking for the spiciness of normal gazpacho, you'll need to add some jalapeno or habanero or something. But I like this recipe because the basil that's been cooked into the olive oil and pureed into the soup and the substitution of vegetable stock for some of the tomato juice makes this gazpacho feel really light.

No comments:

Post a Comment