Friday, July 11, 2008

White Gazpacho

It's been really hot and uncomfortable here, by New England standards. 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity is just lousy cooking weather.

I heard a story on NPR over the weekend about a white gazpacho recipe and my interest was piqued. After some additional web research, I pulled together a version I wanted to try.

White Gazpacho, or Ajo Blanco ("White Garlic") is a soup from the Andalusia region of Spain. Traditionally it is made of bread, almonds, oil and garlic (raw) and is garnished with grapes and a drizzle of oil.

Since I wasn't sure how we'd like the soup, so I garnished very simply with toasted breadcrumbs, parsley and oil. The results were very successful. One one caveat: due to the raw garlic in the soup, our breath was horrific. Really garlicky. So this may not be a good first date or working lunch recipe. We each chewed a huge handful of parsley and that helped a bit.

I served it for dinner with a salad and hard boiled eggs topped with smoked trout and paprika (I was actually going to stuff the eggs, a la deviled eggs, but said "the hell with it" and went basic). The soup is more filling than you might expect, so we ate well.

A rough approximation of what I made is below. Look here, here, here and here for other versions. The really nice things about this soup (other than it being delicious) are that you can make it ahead, you never turn on the oven or stove (Look Ma, no heat!), and you can make it different every time with the garnishes you select.

White Gazpacho / Ajo Blanco
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (I used 3 cloves, for us that was more than enough - will try fewer next time)
  • 2 cups of blanched almonds (Taste your almonds before you start this recipe - they should taste fresh and nutty. If they taste stale or rancid, take a pass on this recipe and make something else for dinner.)
  • 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
  • ~4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • garnishes: toasted breadcrumbs, minced parsley, fruity olive oil, grapes (sliced in half), cubes of ripe melon, cubes of green apple, etc.
Put the garlic and almonds in a blender (better) or food processor with about 1/2 cup of water and whirl them about until you have a peanut-buttery (almond-buttery?) paste. Add the breadcrumbs, olive oil, vinegar and a little more water and spin everything again.

When you have a smooth liquidy paste, pour everything into a bowl. Whisk in more water to loosen the soup to the consistency you like. Add salt and more vinegar (if needed) to taste. (If in doubt, it's better to hold off on salt until the soup is cold. Before you serve it, check the salt and acid one more time.)

Chill until very cold (over night is best) and serve with garnishes of your choice.


Kitt said...

Yum! That looks great.

I've found that a lot of garlic dishes are better on day two, as the pungency mellows a bit.

You could also sautee the garlic a bit or soak it in milk first to reduce the pungency.

Sunday Cook said...

Two days later, the garlic was still *very* strong. I'm planning to try it again with a combination of cooked and raw garlic. I'll try the milk option too. Thanks!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin