Classic Gazpacho with Croutons
Gazpacho is typically better the next day, after the flavors meld. For this quick and easy version that tastes good right away, I used bottled tomato juice, plenty of vinegar and a garlic paste to provide an instant flavor base. You can make this gluten-free by substituting gluten-free bread.
2 cups peeled and diced (1/4 inch) hothouse cucumber, seeded
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) bell pepper (red, yellow or orange)
2 cups diced (1/4 inch) ripe tomato
1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) red onion (soaked in water and a bit of vinegar for at least 20 minutes - this makes raw onion much more palatable by removing the strong aftertaste)
2 cups high-quality tomato juice (Knudsen recommended)
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
3 slices bread, medium diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Optional: Seasoned sea salt to rim glass
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread with olive oil and salt, spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place in center of oven. Toast approx. 10 minutes (or until golden brown), turning once. Remove and allow to cool.
2) While croutons toast, place the diced vegetables in a large bowl. Add the tomato juice, vinegar (reserve a few tablespoons), oil and cilantro (reserve a bit for garnish).
3) In a mortar and pestle, mash garlic with salt and 3 croutons. Add to soup mixture.
4) Transfer half of the mixture to a blender and pulse to coarsely puree. Return to the bowl, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and remaining vinegar if needed (it should taste almost spicy from the vinegar, but not be overly acidic).
5) For serving, rim glasses in seasoned salt if desired. Garnish with croutons and cilantro.
Servings: 4 - 6 bowls. Adapted from “Farmstand Gazpacho,” Parade Magazine, June 2008.
Tomatoes – Contain lycopene (a red carotene) that prevents diseases (including cancer and heart disease) by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can do damage to cellular structures.
Cucumber – An excellent source of silica, a trace mineral that contributes to connective tissue strength.
Bell peppers – Protective against cataracts (possibly due to vitamin C and beta-carotene). Capsaicin, flavonoids and vitamin C also shown to prevent blood clots and reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes (similar to chili peppers, though not as concentrated).