A perfect storm occurred recently that resulted in a chilled, spicy gazpacho landing on my dinner menu.
First, former Collegian photographer Ryan Maier (one of the members in our “Sex in the City Night” club) would be absent for the regular Wednesday supper. Normally not good news, but I was elated because Ryan is allergic to tomatoes.
Secondly, I’d been passing piles of gorgeous end-of-summer beefsteaks, romas and those little green baskets of cherry tomatoes at the grocery store and became inspired. Actually, I’ve been craving this soup for weeks.
The final force was a visit from Debi Davidson-my mother’s sister’s daughter, or my first cousin. Because she has long been a tree-hugging vegetarian who sings praises of tofu, I would prepare a tasty, meatless offering.
I first remember hearing of gazpacho, I think, back when I worked for a catering company in Denver several years ago. It wasn’t until my friend Forrest Gerke came over for dinner more than a year ago that I made my first batch of this soup, and I loved it.
Besides being fairly inexpensive and easy to prepare, gazpacho makes top grades because the home chef can play with its texture-smooth or chunky-and vary its level of heat.
Further, the soup is a feast for the other senses. In my version, a mouthwatering aroma fills the kitchen when I add fresh red onion quarters into a food processor already holding a mixture of green pepper and cucumber and then finish with tomatoes and chipotles.
Gazpacho can be served as a starter, side or stand alone as an entr/e. In my opinion, and in my recipe, it’s also a very attractive looking dish because of the variety of vegetables and the silky red hue the soup inherits with the addition of the fire-roasted peppers.
This soup can be made in advance and chilled for several days in the fridge or eaten straight from the blender. To supplement my gazpacho dinner, I added a turkey sandwich (because who wants to wait until Thanksgiving?).
To make four sandwiches, I bought a half-pound of thinly sliced, deli turkey, which I piled on slices of still-warm French bread slathered with chipotle mayonnaise. I ladled the gazpacho into giant, bowl-sized coffee mugs and served the sandwiches on the side.
This week, we took a break from watching Carrie Bradshaw and the other gals and just ate and visited. Not surprisingly, Aubrey McCarthy, my picky friend, took two slurps of soup, proclaimed her mouth was on fire and moved on to the turkey. In a nice twist, Debi, the former vegetarian, not only finished her soup but also ate the whole sandwich, too.
That’s the great thing about gazpacho, television remote controls and life: You have choices.
DID YOU KNOW:
Venture into the Oriental/Mexican food aisle to find all sorts of new flavors and textures. Chipotle peppers in Adobe sauce can be found in both small and larger cans in this section. Have too many? Freeze them. Just pull them out the night before and your chipotles will be ready for dinner the next night.
5 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
1 green bell pepper
1 tsp crushed garlic
1-3 chipotle peppers (depending on desired heat, I use 2)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all ingredients into chunks and toss into a blender or food processor. Blend until desired texture is achieved. If a soupier final result is desired, add one can of tomato juice. Enjoy right away, or stick in the fridge overnight, then enjoy!
1 chipotle pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
Finely dice chipotle pepper and combine with mayo. Can be kept in fridge for up to a week and tastes great for an extra kick anywhere mayo would be used.
Staff writer Liz Sunshine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.