Rather than moaning about the heat, I’m going to admit I absolutely adore hot weather, which we don’t get enough of in Britain. But it’s only pleasant if you are well prepared, with iced drinks and refreshing food. As it’s a roasting 34° C in London today, I felt the urge to make the most ultimately refreshing and cooling thing I could think of. So it just had to be gazpacho.
Gazpacho reminds me of sweltering summer holidays in Trujillo, a small, historic town on a hilltop overlooking the baking plains of Extremadura. There’s something so cooling and quenching about the “gazpacho extremeño” they make there. When it’s hot we’d have it as a starter or accompaniment to every meal (ok, not breakfast!). We’d slurp it greedily out of terracotta bowls in the main square, with storks chattering in their untidy nests, the ancient stones finally cooling after a magnificent golden sunset.
So here’s my best gazpacho recipe for parched throats.
I think they actually use white onions in Extremadura but I’ve used red this time.
Serves 4 as a starter or accompaniment
- 100g stale bread (white, for the Spanish effect, although I used wholemeal sourdough as that’s what I had!)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 650g ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 a cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 a small red onion, chopped
- 1/2 a red pepper (or green, for more authenticity), deseeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon white (or red) wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- large pinch of salt, some black pepper
Tear up the bread into small pieces, put in a bowl with the crushed garlic and pour over 100ml cold water, stir to combine.
Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, leave for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the water, skin them and chop up the flesh, squeezing out the seeds. reserve all the liquid and seeds (you can do the whole thing into a sieve over the bowl). Squeeze the skins and seedy pulp to extract all the juice and throw away the skins and seeds. Add the tomatoes to the bowl with the bread.
Add the cucumber, pepper, onion, and put it all in a food processor, with the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Whiz to a fine puree. You can then strain it through a sieve for an even smoother texture.
Cover, and leave to chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Then test for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.