Gazpacho…because it’s too hot to cook.

I threw in the towel around 110F.   Preheat the oven? Boil? In this heat? Fat chance.

I can be quite content eating salads. Crisp, green, crunchy mash-ups of  fresh veg, an interesting cheese and hard salami of some sort and I’m good.  From salad,  it’s a short jump to Gazpacho, one of my favorite summer recipes.

Serves 6ish

3 slices day old French bread, no crust
2 pounds canned Italian-style whole tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1T sugar
2C tomato juice, good quality
1T paprika, Spanish if available (Everyone should have this in their pantry. Seriously.)
Kosher salt, ground black pepper to taste
1/2C extra virgin olive oil
1/4C sherry wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
Handful, chopped parsley

Soak the bread in 1C cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then combine with tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, onion, garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until almost smooth, leaving some texture.  Empty into a large bowl,  then stir in the juice, sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice and parsley. Stir to combine well. Chill for at least 2 hours. Season again with salt and pepper before serving.  Serve garnished with any of the above veggies, diced small. And there’s always the hard-boiled egg garnish.

This dish is better made the day before.

Notes: at first taste, the vinegar-lemon combination packs some punch, but mellows over time. You might want to play with the amounts to suit your taste. The amount of onion shown here is half the amount called for in the original called for, and that’s fine for my palate. Again, feel free to improvise.

Gazpacho photo, courtesy

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All rights reserve, 2013

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