It’s so bloody hot in Colorado right now (96F/35C) that the thought of cooking anything, let alone writing about the World’s Best Fish and Chips that I recently enjoyed in the UK, has left me feeling positively limp.
Great Fish and Chips (and other British gastro-delights) will have to wait for another time because all I can think of right now is diving headfirst into a bowl of deeply smokey-savory and fresh-tasting chilled Gazpacho; perfect for hot summer days and nights.
So – here’s my version of what was originally Gordon Ramsey’s version of Gazpacho. That brilliant kitchen demon would probably slap me soundly if he saw what I’d done to his version but frankly, this is how I like it and anyway, Gazpacho has been around for a lot longer than either of us, which makes us all free to make it our own by adding more of this, less of that and so-on.
I use a blender; just a bit. I don’t peel my English hot-house cucumber and I don’t use Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins) or stock. I replaced regular Tabasco with Chipotle Tabasco because I’m addicted to smokey chipotle chili. If you can’t find it, use regular Tabasco and add some smoked Paprika. There’s something so very Spanish about smoked peppers and chili; likewise sherry vinegar.
I also replaced GR’s tarragon with flat leaf parsley; I added some finely diced avocado and cucumber as a garnish because I like the crunch on top and the contrast of red and green; in fact my version is nothing like his version come to think of it!
BTW, did you know that chopped fresh parsley freezes really well? A French trick apparently. Use the flat leaf variety, chop it up and store it in a small container in the freezer. It will keep beautifully for whenever you need it. No more yellowing, floppy bunches lurking in the back of your veg compartment!
6 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 med-large red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 small red or sweet white onion (or half a big one) peeled and roughly chopped
¾ of an English (hot-house) cucumber, roughly chopped and with about 4 tablespoons diced finely and set aside for the garnish
½ a firm but ripe avocado, finely diced for the garnish
A tablespoon of lemon juice, more or less to taste
3 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 fl oz (285ml) of really good tomato juice (even V8 works here) – add more if needed
A good handful of basil and flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Chipotle Tabasco to taste (or regular Tabasco and a sprinkle of smoked paprika to add the smoke)
Extra-v olive oil to finish
Croutons to serve (optional)
Put all the vegetables (aside from the 4 tablespoons of finely diced cucumber and avocado garnish) in the bowl of a food processor along with the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; pulse until very small pieces remain but you don’t want it to be completely smooth.
Transfer it to a large ceramic bowl and add the tomato juice (or V8), chopped herbs (reserve some for a garnish) and finally the Chipotle Tabasco, a little at a time, until you get the right balance of smoke and heat.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of four hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Serve the Gazpacho in chilled bowls topped with the reserved diced cucumber, avocado and a few herbs. Drizzle with a little olive oil and pass around some good home made croutons for bread-eaters to add themselves – and maybe some extra olive oil.
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