In the middle of a summer heat wave, cold, colorful, and flavorful food can be the antidote to lethargy. Gazpacho is the epitome of cold, colorful, and flavorful. It also has a rich history. Originating in Andalusia during the Middle Ages, gazpacho was a pulverized pulp of garlic, almonds, bread, olive oil and vinegar. Tomatoes and peppers were not added to the mix until after Columbus. Regional varieties of gazpacho abound, some with a bread base, others without. Often called a ‘liquid salad,’ the now standard tomato-garlic-bell pepper-cucumber base is quite forgiving. So I attempted some Tex-Mex fusion. Cilantro (aka coriander), cumin, ground chili powder, and jalapenos are quintessential Mexican flavors; combined, they serve as a sturdy platform for most salsas and sauces. Stir in a few drops of Tabasco, or my Texas favorite—‘Kick Ass Hot Sauce’ made from habanero and serrano peppers—and you’ve got a bit of extra ferocity. The challenge then, was to balance the simplicity of freshly pureed vegetables with the boisterous Mexican spice. Integrating lemon and lime juice plus a dab of honey yielded equilibrium. To turn a light soup into a more substantial meal, I garnished with fresh avocado, Manchego cheese cubes, fried tortilla strips, and lime-cilantro shrimp. The result, according to my dinner companion, was ‘pure summer.’
44 ounces of V8 juice
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
A fistful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
21/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Mexican chili pepper
½ teaspoon of Mexican paprika
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried whole basil
11/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Tabasco or ‘Kick Ass Hot Sauce’ a few shakes to taste
- I know the ingredient list is long, but the directions are fairly simple. Chop up all the veggies, coarsely, and place into a large bowl.
- If you’re like me and didn’t know how to peel a tomato, drop it in boiling water for about 30 seconds until the skin disintegrates. To de-seed a cucumber, cut it in half, and with a spoon remove the inside layer of seeds.
- Add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon and lime juices, spices, honey, and hot sauce.
- Pour some of the vegetable mixture and chilled V8 juice into the blender. Pulverize, do not fully blend.
- Repeat until all of the vegetable mixture and juice has been used.
- Refrigerate in an airtight for at least four hours before serving.
About a pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
3 tablespoons of cilantro
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of chili powder
¼ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
¼ teaspoon of cumin
- Heat a skillet with butter and olive oil.
- Add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
- Add the shrimp, juice of one lime, and spice mix.
- Cook both sides until browned.
- Add the fresh cilantro
- Corn tortilla, cut into strips, and fried in a bit of butter with dashes of chili and onion powder
- Manchego cheese, shredded or diced in small cubes
- Fresh avocado, cubed