My mother, who recently died, was a wonderful cook and baker in her day. When I was growing up you never entertained at a restaurant, but always at home. It was a great treat to be invited to our house which was always warm and welcoming, where you got to engage in lively conversations and where the food was terrific. At the height of summer when the beefsteak tomatoes were big and red and ripe, my mother always made this gazpacho. She was way ahead of the curve since cooking at home in the 1950s and 60s was generally not so sophisticated. She would make this gazpacho (origins unknown I’m afraid, but I had a very similar one in Cordoba, Spain served with grilled prawns) and a delicious paella with flan for dessert. There are many wonderful and inventive versions of gazpacho that I enjoy, but this is still my favorite. You can get as fancy as you like with the garnishes or just go with some finely chopped cucumber and pepper and a sprinkling of cilantro.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
3 medium sweet bell peppers ( I used orange and yellow but my mother used red and green)
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
6 large, very ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 scant Tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black or Aleppo pepper
2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika or 1 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika and 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups cold water
- To peel the tomatoes you can either plunge them into boiling water for 2 minutes and then into ice water OR you can cut out the core and using a sharp knife, grab the peel and start pulling/cutting it away from the tomato. It doesn’t have to look perfect since it will be pureed in any case.
- Coarsely chop the onion, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes and mince the garlic. Set aside.
- Mix your liquids with the salt, pepper and paprika.
- Working in batches, place about 1/3 of the ingredients in a blender and puree, leaving a little texture. In a large bowl, mix everything together so the mix is evenly distributed. Pour into containers and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve you can garnish it with finely diced cucumber, bell pepper and cilantro or use croutons.