Spring is in the air!
I’ve been waiting impatiently for the nice weather to finally reach my little area of the Spanish Riviera, but this year things stayed cold and windy all the way into April. Normally I’m in short sleeves by the end of March, but I’ve found myself grabbing a jacket almost every day this year… until the last few days when the sun has finally decided to show itself.
So, while last week I was keeping warm with roasted vegetable soups like my roasted pumpkin soup with roasted red peppers and caramelized onions, this week I’ve been craving something much cooler and more refreshing.
It all comes at a time when I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables. Perhaps it has to do with my need for spring cleaning. I’ve been busy clearing out all of my closets and drawers, getting rid of clutter and things I no longer use anymore. Maybe our bodies need a bit of spring cleaning too, and getting in more vegetables and healthy fats is a great way to help your body cleanse itself.
Today I’m going to share with you a traditional recipe for gazpacho andaluz. Gazpacho is one of those little treasures of the Mediterranean diet because it incorporates a variety of vegetables and fruits, high quality extra virgin olive oil, and garlic into a refreshing and nourishing drink (soup). It’s like Spain’s version of the smoothie using ingredients that are found locally.
Gazpacho Anadaluz comes from Andalucía, the Southern region of Spain, where my dad was born and raised. It can be found with or without the addition of bread, and it is a way for people to use up their day-old Spanish bread that has gone hard. Of course, I no longer buy bread, and even if I did, I prefer these sorts of things on the lighter, more refreshing side, so I choose the version “sin pan.” Without the bread, this recipe is naturally paleo and delicious.
Before I leave you with my recipe, I have to admit something. I don’t really like tomatoes very much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for a slow roasted tomato sauce, but I refuse to eat raw tomatoes. Seeing as how the base of gazpacho uses fresh, raw tomatoes, it isn’t something I would ever really order at a restaurant. That said, each year I push myself to try new vegetables that I didn’t like in the past, and little by little I am growing fonder and fonder of foods that I didn’t really like before.
It’s crazy for me to think that only a few years ago I thought I hated avocados and green olives, but now I love them so much that I could eat them every day! Heck, I even have avocado and olive trees growing in my garden now.
Anyway, I decided to make gazpacho this week as a way to try raw, fresh tomatoes again in a new way. While I didn’t eat a huge bowl, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the combination of flavors.
Do I dare say I liked it?!?!
Adding a small piece of green apple really helps add a bit of sweetness and a new depth of flavor. My husband thoroughly enjoyed this gazpacho, despite his hatred of cucumbers. (We’re the perfect match for eating the traditional salads here which consist of lettuce topped with tomatoes and cucumbers. He gets all of the tomatoes, and I get all of the cucumbers.)
If I keep it up, I may decide by the end of summer that I love tomatoes after all. (Or not.)
The traditional gazpacho andaluz is a healthy, tasty way to eat your veggies, but if you, too, avoid tomatoes, you might enjoy my modified strawberry melon gazpacho instead. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to eat lots of seasonal fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy fats now that spring has arrived.
Makes 1 liter
2 lbs. tomatoes
1 small Italian pepper (or 1/4 green bell pepper)
1 small onion (or 1/4-1/2 larger onion)
1/2 peeled cucumber (or 1 small one)
1/2 peeled green apple
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (find high quality, organic oil here)
salt (to taste)
- Wash and dice the tomatoes, peppers, onion, peeled cucumber and apple, and throw them into your blender (or a container for your hand held blender if you are using that).
- Add in the (peeled) cloves of garlic, the extra virgin olive oil, and a bit of salt, and begin to blend the mixture until it is smooth and you no longer see any chunks of tomato or garlic.
- Most people don’t take the time to peel the tomatoes when making gazpacho, but if the bits of tomato peel and/or the seeds bother you, now is the time to strain them out. I use a stainless steel strainer when straining tomato sauces, and push the mixture through with the help of a wooden spoon.
- If the gazpacho is too thick, you can add in a little bit of water and/or white wine to thin it out to the desired consistency. Blend it in to fully incorporate it.
- Chill and serve shortly after having made it, garnished with a dash of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, and, optionally, some fresh parsley. (In the picture I used black truffle infused salt flakes to make it fancy.)