Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Katrina's Gazpacho

A few weeks ago my boys and I took a trip to New York to visit family and friends. It's been a few years since I was last in my old stomping grounds and it was nice to see how some things have changed – or not.

We took a trip into Queens to see two of my friends from high school and their families. Anne and Katrina are the kinds of friends I know I'll have for life. We spent our formative teen years together. Even if many months go by between visits, we easily pick up where we left off whenever we do see each other.

My boys were super excited to see how people live in the city. They couldn't imagine living in an apartment. They were pleasantly surprised by Katrina's Jackson Heights home, complete with a large outdoor courtyard that provided plenty of room to play — you guessed it — baseball.

Katrina went all out and made a delicious lunch, including this amazing gazpacho. People, this is one of the best things I've eaten. The cold soup is more like summer in a drink and it is just perfect for a hot day.

Lucky for me, one of my boys didn't want his serving so of course I couldn't let it go to waste! Katrina kindly shared her recipe. She started with this New York Times version and tweaked it to her liking. I made it as soon as we were back in Peoria. I was going to bring it to a gathering of girlfriends, but the husband and I slurped it down ourselves instead.

I think the key to making this recipe work is good tomatoes, preferably homegrown or locally farm grown. It's perfect for a midday meal, dinner or a snack.

Katrina's version was less pulpy than mine. I think this is because she used a small mesh strainer to painstakingly remove all of the solids from the soup. I used a larger non-mesh strainer. It definitely removed a lot of the solids, but some still made it into the final product.  If you have a mesh strainer or cheese cloth, I recommend one of those methods.

Mangia! Mangia!

Katrina's Gazpacho

2 pounds of  ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 cucumber (about 8 inches long) peeled and cut into chunks 
1 small yellow or white onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 or 2 garlic cloves
1 long, light green pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large pieces (Adjust your choice based on your preferred spice level: Try an Anaheim or cubanelle. I used a Hungarian wax pepper.)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 to 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic and pepper to a blender or food processor (you may need to work in batches.) Blend at high speed until very smooth, between 2 and 5 minutes. Stop blending and scrape down the sides as needed.

Add vinegar and salt and continue to blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture should become an orange or pink color. It should transform into a smooth texture like a salad dressing. If the mixture is watery, add more oil until it achieves a creamy consistency.

Strain mixture into a large bowl to remove solids. Use a rubber spatula to push the liquid through. Discard solids. 

Pour gazpacho into a large pitcher (glass is preferred) and cover top with plastic wrap. Chill overnight (or for at least 6 hours.) Pour into cups or bowls and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Gazpacho is great for sharing with friends.