Tomato Gazpacho

Tomato Gazpacho

Tomato gazpacho is not redundant.

Gazpacho got its start in Andalusia, the southern-most province of Spain, sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries – long before the tomato arrived on European soil.  Owing to its origins and its meaning – gazpacho comes from an Arabic word meaning “soaked bread” – some food historians believe the Moors brought the dish to Spain as a sophisticated field ration.

Tomato Gazpacho

Other food historians trace the dish to the early Romans, who soaked their stale bread in vinegar and olive oil, before puréeing it.  In that case, they believe the Latin word “caspa,” meaning “residue” or “fragment” came to inspire the word gazpacho.

All of which means that gazpacho is more about bread and vinegar, than it is about tomatoes.  Indeed, a white gazpacho, ‘”ajo blanco,” made from almonds, bread, garlic, vinegar, and garnished with green grapes, remains incredibly popular in Malaga, Spain.  Another white gazpacho, from the Estremadura region, mixes eggs and cucumbers into the bread, vinegar, garlic, and oil mixture.

So no matter which gazpacho you decide to make, it  should include olive oil, garlic, and a good vinegar (I like to use sherry vinegar).  For tomato gazpacho, fat, juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes are best, but if unavailable, canned tomatoes will work fine.  When using bell peppers, red or yellow are preferable to the bitterness of green peppers.  Finally, gazpacho is best made in advance.  Allowing the gazpacho to chill for several hours helps the flavors to blend and ripen, while allowing the vinegar to fade into the background.  I kept my tomato gazpacho in the refrigerator for several days, and each serving seemed to be better than the last!

When serving gazpacho, it’s common to pass around bowls full of croutons, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and finely chopped scallions, allowing each guest to individually garnish their gazpacho.  If you’re making croutons, a good white bread is probably the most common, though I was quite pleased with the croutons I made from my leftover brioche!

Tomato Gazpacho

PREP TIME: 10 minutes, but chilling recommended
YIELD: Serves 4

WHAT TO GRAB:
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3/4 cup water or tomato juice (depending on desired thickness)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE CROUTONS:
6 slices of brioche or crusty bread
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Tomato Gazpacho

HOW YOU DO IT:

1.  Combine tomatoes, onion, cucumber, pepper, garlic, oil, vinegar, and water in a blender.  Process on low speed until well combined, but still thick.  Pour the mixture into a large jar or bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

2.  Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium-low heat.  Dice the bread into half-inch cubes and fry them until browned.

3.  Serve the chilled gazpacho in bowls or ramekins, and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber and a handful of croutons!

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4 responses to “Tomato Gazpacho

  1. Great post! I enjoyed the background info. But, most of all I like your recipe. It’s basic but packed with flavor. I’ll have to try this!

  2. We’re making this in Avalon. It’ll be great with the Jersey ‘maters!

  3. I was really excited about this, but it came out really really acidic. I guess that’s to be expected being mostly tomato, but it’s really too acidic to eat more than a few bites or it starts burning my tongue… Did I do something wrong?
    I had to use red wine vinegar because my store didn’t have sherry vinegar so I used a little less than it called for, but I wouldn’t think that would increase the acidity. Any ideas? I really like it other than this issue.

  4. Paige, I don’t think you did anything wrong. And no, I don’t think there’s any discernible difference between the two vinegars. One thing you might do is let the flavors come together for a few hours (and even overnight) before trying it. That might help things mellow. Finally, you could also try mixing some toasted bread into the recipe before mixing it all together. This way, the bread could absorb some of the acidity.

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