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Gazpacho, bruschetta celebrate tomato harvest
For this week's recipe, I thought of combining both gazpacho — which is a chilled tomato-based raw vegetable soup — and bruschetta as a way of celebrating the tomato season.
The home of gazpacho is Andalusia, in southern Spain. Each household has developed its own gazpacho soup recipe, all slightly different but with the same basic principle.
The main ingredients used in gazpacho are stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, garlic, onions, olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Fresh herbs and spices that could be used include basil, mint, thyme, parsley, cumin, ground coriander or paprika.
Bruschetta is a popular Italian appetizer. The origin goes back to medieval times in central Italy, when farmers and peasants used bread as their staple meal topped with various available ingredients.
Bruschetta is made with thick, large slices of bread, generally rubbed with fresh garlic and topped with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and extra-virgin olive oil. It is an ideal appetizer or a starter when the tomatoes are ripe and in season, as well as fresh basil. Using a great extra-virgin olive oil will make a difference.
Both dishes will be served at Café Collage for the next few weeks.
Serves six to eight
5 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 each red and green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 large red onion, chopped
1⁄4 cup Meyer lemon juice
1⁄4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon harissa (chili paste found in most supermarkets)
Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
1⁄4 pound stale bread, chopped
1⁄4 pound croutons, see cook's notes
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cook's notes: For the croutons, I use focaccia bread. Cut the bread into 1⁄2-inch cubes; toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; and bake until golden.
In a large pot, boil 8 cups of water and blanch the tomatoes until the skin breaks (about three to five minutes, depending on the ripeness of the tomato). As the tomatoes are cooling, remove the skin and the central stem. Place the peeled and cored tomatoes in a large bowl.
In a food processor, puree the bell peppers, cucumber, garlic, onion, lemon juice, mint, coriander, cumin, harissa, salt and pepper. (Do not overprocess.)
Transfer the mixture to a large blender. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the stale bread and process until smooth. Add a bit of water if the mixture is too thick. Refrigerate the gazpacho soup and serve chilled topped with croutons and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
1 to 2 baguettes, cut into 3⁄4- to 1-inch slices
1⁄4 cup minced fresh garlic
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1⁄4 cup capers, rinsed and chopped
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the bread slices until a light golden brown. (If you prefer, the sliced bread can be grilled instead.)
Mix the garlic and 1⁄2 cup olive oil together. Lightly spread the mixture on the toasted bread.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, capers and olives. Add the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well. Add 1⁄4 cup olive oil and the lemon juice and toss the mixture well.
Top each slice of bread with the tomato mixture and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Serve immediately as an accompaniment to the gazpacho soup.