Pretty. Easy. Tomato Gazpacho

Have you ever seen a sloth in action? If not, please block away some time to watch this video. If so, then you have a really good idea of my pace of life yesterday.

I left a blazing hot L.A., hopped in my car, and drove to Northern California — no matter where I stopped, it was god awful hot. Not quite as hot as that August day when I was crossing Manhattan a few years back and I literally felt my shoes melt into the pavement but seriously, seriously, seriously hot.

It was almost too hot to eat — which, for this girl, is saying a lot. Not even a salad would suffice because the whole thing would just turn into a sad pile of wilted bits before I cold get it to the table. So, unless you’re in somewhere as temperate as the Bay Area — where I’ve run off to for some respite — I’m sure you relate because it’s August and there’s a reason these are called the dog days of summer.

Days like yesterday are when I make gazpacho. It’s not rocket science. I didn’t invent it. But it’s the only thing I can bare to make when I’m in this slothy state.

The one thing I insist you do if you’re going to make gazpacho in my presence (or anywhere near this site) is to macerate the tomatoes before blending them. I know, it requires patience and no one has patience anymore when it comes to cooking (that’s why I have the simplified version below), but it’s pretty much the only thing you have to do to make this gazpacho, so make it happen. And, yes, you may have noticed that I’ve been all about macerating lately, be it peaches for ice cream or these tomatoes and that’s because it makes flavor really jump out and come to the forefront. So, seriously, try it out.

Enough writing from me: I need to go stick my head in the freezer in attempts to cool down and you, go make some gazpacho!

Pretty Easy Tomato Gazpacho Soup Recipe

Pretty Easy: Tomato Gazpacho Recipe

  • Makes: About 6 cups
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins or more for macerating time
  • Hands-On Time: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped (reserving juices) (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 Persian or kirby cucumber (about 8 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (about 8 ounces), stems, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 (6-inch) piece baguette, crust removed, torn into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 handful (about 12) basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

Combine tomatoes and reserved juices, oil, sugar, and salt in a large nonreactive bowl, toss to combine, cover, and set aside at room temperature to macerate for as long as you can, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Place tomato mixture, cucumbers, bell pepper, garlic, bread, and vinegar in a food processor fitted with a blade and process until well mixed and blended, about 3 minutes. Taste and add more salt, sugar, or vinegar as needed.

Pass gazpacho through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the back of the mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Place in the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Garnish each bowl with a few basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.


Simplified:  I’d really like you to try to macerate the tomatoes but you could use canned tomatoes instead of the fresh tomatoes and skip the macerating step altogether. It won’t taste quite as good but it will be faster.

Modified: Follow one of my favorite variations and replace half of the tomatoes with watermelon.

Glorified: Oil and grill some bread for some impromptu croutons and puree a few handfuls of the basil or some cilantro with oil for an instant garnish.


Pretty Easy is a monthly feature showcasing doable yet interesting recipes. Even those who fear cooking often find success with these recipes.


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