A few weeks ago, it was hot here in the Northeast. HOT. Who feels like cooking when outside, it feels like you’ve been plucked from mild weathered New England and dropped on to the equator? Not me!
Luckily, taking a look around the kitchen, I saw that we had some garden tomatoes, some cucumbers, a baguette and other miscellaneous gazpacho-type ingredients. We didn’t have any bell peppers, but so what? We’d probably just burp them up all evening anyway. It’s true! Some jalapenos got very excited to learn they were the understudies on that day.
I just grabbed a bunch of things and started chopping and adding. It’s the “oh, this sounds good and we really need to eat it before it goes bad” style of cooking. You know it, you love it! Maybe you don’t, but it can be fun and weirdly exciting. Just add things like seasonings in small amounts. You can always add more later, but if you add too much of something, it can be tough to correct. Have fun and experiment!
What I ended up with was a fantastic fresh gazpacho that I didn’t have to cook. Well, I did sauté the onions, garlic and peppers to take that raw edge off, but that doesn’t really count as heating up the kitchen. I said so, that’s why.
Are you getting overwhelmed with garden tomatoes and cucumbers? Try this! Have some zucchini lying around? You could always try adding some to this--puree a bit with the tomatoes and cukes, and leave some finely diced to stir in at the end. Add some fresh herbs you may have--whatever you like! If you end up with something you aren’t sure of, try putting it away (or freezing) and taking it out when it’s cooler and turning it into a hot soup by adding stock and other things, or going the tomato sauce route and adding a bit of tomato paste to thicken it up. Like I said, don’t be afraid to try!
Garden Gazpacho with Hazelnuts
Serves 3-4, depending on serving size
I like to leave some of the tomatoes and cucumbers out of the food processor so my gazpacho has some texture when I serve it. If you like it smooth and not chunky style, go ahead and process them with the other ingredients. If you don’t have hazelnuts, try almonds, walnuts, etc. Serve with toasted baguette slices.
1/2 cup red onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded (keep the seeds if you want the heat)
3/4 - 1 pound (3-4 cups) tomatoes, quartered (set aside about 1/2 cup for later)
4 small (pickling size) cukes (2 roughly chopped, 2 diced small for later)
3 - 4 inch piece of a baguette, roughly torn up
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp Simply Organic Salsa Mix *See Note Below*
1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup tasty olive oil
salt, to taste
Additional chopped hazelnuts for topping the gazpacho, optional
In a sauté pan, cook the red onion, garlic and jalapeno lightly in a bit of oil, just to take the raw edge off. Set aside to cool a bit.
Take the quartered tomatoes and the two roughly chopped cukes (leaving the smaller diced ones aside) and toss them in your food processor or a good blender. Give them a few pulses. Add the bread pieces, the sautéed ingredients, the nuts, vinegar, pepper, salsa seasoning, lime juice and olive oil to the food processor and pulse until you get a nice texture. Don't process the heck out of it, but stop when it's well mixed and everything is smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a touch of salt if you think it needs it--I added at least a pinch.
Stir in the remaining diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and chill until you're ready to serve. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
*Note: I had picked up this salsa mix at Whole Foods one day when they had a dip out for sampling. It was a mix of the salsa seasoning, another seasoning, and some ricotta plus sour cream. I never got around to making the dip, but I still had this packet lying around, so I figured “why not?” It's a blend of cilantro, bell peppers, jalapenos, cumin and cayenne. If you can't find this, add a touch of cumin and cayenne, and a small bit of cilantro if you have it lying around.