And Texas did not disappoint – it was HOT! Well, at least to this native Southern Californian. Having never lived more than a mile from the beach I am just not used to temps over 90 degrees. Now, occasionally the mercury rebels and goes outside of it’s normal 60 – 80 degree range here – and like any self respecting Southern Californian, I do my fair share of complaining… and then of course figure out how to deal with it sans air conditioning.
Growing up, whenever the mercury headed into the 90 degree range, my mother’s solution was to make gazpacho – it not only cooled everyone down but it also made great use of the excess tomato harvest. Over the years my mother made several different kinds – a chunky style laden with cucumbers, onions, cilantro, garlic and lime and a smooth version that she flavored with sherry and almonds. I always loved both and over the years have played with and tweaked both of her recipes.
When the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine came out and I saw the recipe for Salmorejo I was intrigued since I had never heard that name before in all the years I’ve eaten and made this soup. Going back to my mother’s recipe, it was simply called “Smooth Gazpacho” and to this day I have no idea where it came from. Her version did not call for toasted bread to thicken the soup and so, inspired by the recipe in Bon Appetit I tried adding it to my version and loved the result – and I hope you do too!
This soup is great to pair with a big salad and some crusty bread for lunch or dinner and works really well as a starter. It also works great as an hors d’oeuvre – just pour it into shot glasses!!!
Spanish Style Gazpacho – You can of course skip grating the tomatoes and just puree the whole tomato. I prefer the texture of the soup without the skin. Grating the tomatoes allows you to remove the skin without having to put the tomatoes into boiling water to peel them and preserves their fresh flavor. You can of course, blanch the tomatoes and peel them if you wish!
(serves 4 as an appetizer)
- 4 large, ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded and grated
- 1/2 cup roasted pequillo peppers ( I used Melissa’s)
- 4 slices toasted, sliced white sandwich bread, crusts removed
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds
- 1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar ( to taste)
- 1/4 cup canola oil (or 1/2 spanish olive oil and half canola)
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 4 oz. manchego cheese
- 2 – 3 oz. Serrano ham
- 4 bamboo skewers
- Seed the tomatoes and, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the tomatoes over a large bowl, making sure to catch all the juices.
- Transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the pequillo peppers, bread, garlic, almonds and 1 Tbsp. of sherry vinegar. Season with salt and white pepper. Blend the soup for about 3 minutes until finely pureed. With food processor/blender running, drizzle in the oil.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Refrigerate until cold and serve.
- For garnish, cut manchego cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Slice serrano ham into 1/2 inch wide strips and fold strips into 1/2 inch wide squares. Skewer a cube of cheese, a piece of serrano ham and another cube of manchego cheese. These can be made several hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.