I have been dying for some gazpacho ever since I left Spain (even when I was eating it in Spain I was dying for it). But I’ve never been able to find a recipe I’m really satisfied with. After tasting Spain’s glorious gazpachos (Sebastian’s in particular) my doubts were confirmed–none of the gazpacho I was having State-side was cutting it. First of all, there are no chunks in Spanish gazpacho, it’s always completely smooth-silky even, and very cold. What was I to do?
It’s silly that I sat in a quandary longer than thirty seconds–ARL has a resident (Basque) Spanish cuisine advisor–Begonia Colomar*!
Begonia was quick to respond to my query about gazpacho. Over in her adopted home–Brooklyn–she’s making it constantly. Begonia immediately agreed with my concerns about this American “gazpacho” I’ve been eating–real Spanish gazpacho must be smooth–and it must be cold (Lord knows I love the Pasta Shop but you should have SEEN the stuff they were trying to pass off as gazpacho at their counter today. It was super chunky and by the color of it, it either had a lot of beets or red food coloring, and they were advertising a dollop of sour cream on top. Did they get it confused with Borsht?). Begonia says that in southern Spain she’s often seen people go so far as to put an ice cube in their gazpacho to ensure they coldness.
Below is Begonia’s recipe for gazpacho. I doubled it and followed it exactly.
Begonia’s Gazpacho (serves two)
2 Anaheim peppers (do not substitute with bell peppers, Anaheims are sweeter, softer and more aromatic)
2-3 large very ripe tomatoes (add them to boiling water for 10 seconds to peel them)
1 large or 2 medium cucumbers
1-2 tbs red wine or sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove
2-3 tbs best quality extra virgin olive oil
salt [Begonia and I both swear by Maldon]
Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Mix at high speed until very smooth. Taste for point of vinegar and salt. I like my gazpacho very, very smooth, not chunky at all so after blending I pass it through a chinois to achieve that silky, very liquefied texture. Put it back in the fridge for an hour or freezer for 15 minutes. Serve very cold. I like to garnish it with a couple of drops of olive oil, chives, and little pinch of paprika…experiment with the garnishing…parsley, bacon, croutons, tarragon…endless variations.
After receiving the initial instructions, I wrote back with a few questions. What about bread crumbs? What about fresh herbs? Only one clove garlic?
I don’t use fresh herbs in the puree, but that is my purist soul. I don’t use bread because it makes it thicker and I personally don’t like it so much. There are millions of ways to make it. If you want it a bit more red add one peeled canned tomato. Also using balsamic vinegar gives a nice taste but I’m not so in to the color that results from it, maybe white balsamic. Add 1 tbs of vinegar to the initial mix, taste it and add the second one if needed. Experiment and choose the one you like best.
Also, previous recipes have instructed me to seed the tomatoes and peppers. Begonia avoids this laborious step by using the chinois. Also, Begonia told me, and I can confirm this, that the one garlic clove is surely sufficient.
I used heirloom tomatoes (very ripe as Begonia advised). The flavor they produced is incredible, but the peeling process was a bit harder given the deep nooks and crannies.
I don’t own a food processor per se. I have so little storage space honestly–my toaster is in the closet. But I bought this Kitchen Aid blender at Williams Sonoma, which has food processing functions. I pureed, then liquified the ingredients in batches, combined the results in a bowl, and repeated the process.
That produced a fairly smooth texture, but I wanted the silkiness that the gazpacho of Spain has. I didn’t have a chinois on hand, so I reached for a sieve. Bad call. Too fine. Didn’t work. So I went out and splurged on a Rosle chinois. Given my love of gazpacho–if gazpacho is all I use it for it will have been a worthwhile purchase.
The chinois step takes another 5-10 minutes. The mixture won’t go straight through (those holes are small), so I poured my gazpacho into the chinois and then scraped the sides of it with a rubber spatula to keep the liquid moving.
In the end it was all worth it.
The final product
I garnished it with olive oil and parsley from the garden. The texture is super smooth and the taste is fantastic. Every ingredient is well-represented in each sip. The color is burnt orange–perhaps a bit on the greener side since some of my tomatoes were green heirlooms. I love that Begonia takes the color of gazpacho into account in her recipe.
Finally, a serving note. While I photographed my gazpacho in this pretty beaded glass bowl, since I was having it by myself as a snack I quickly transferred it to a lowball glass and simply drank it down. I have no patience for a spoon with gazpacho. Don’t judge–haven’t you ever seen the women drinking gazpacho in Almodovar films? I rest my case.
*more on Begonia, her art, and her food here, here, here, here, and here.