Summer’s Bounty

Allie

Look the backyard vegetable garden my Mr. put together earlier this season:

Isn’t it a work of art?  I am so very proud of his hard work.  Out here in the boonies, (where I grew up and now find myself again), vegetable gardens are a common sight in most backyards.  Nevertheless, I’m thoroughly impressed with the farming skills of my rather citified husband…

Even if you don’t have a backyard vegetable garden, delicious summer fruits and vegetables are hard to miss right now.  Supermarkets, farmers markets, and roadside stands bursting with fresh produce seem to be everywhere you look.  Take advantage of the best summer has to offer, with an easy summertime classic that’s so simple to prepare, you don’t even need to cook it!

Who doesn’t enjoy a cool, refreshing bowl of fresh gazpacho?  I’ve liked it as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I tasted the real deal, on my honeymoon in Spain, that I truly fell in love.

Most of the gazpacho I had tried up until that point was a lot like a soupy salsa.  Lots of chunky veg blended together and served cold.  Nice.  But true Gazpacho Andaluz is a completely different animal.  Velvety smooth, pale in color, and so rich and creamy you almost can’t believe it’s completely free of dairy.

Allie’s Gazpacho Andaluz

3-4 baguette slices
1/2 cup water
1 cucumber
2 large, ripe tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper
3 scallions, green part only
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Start by trimming off and discarding the crusts of the bread.  Soak the bread in water.

While that’s soaking, peel your cucumber and halve it lengthways.  Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the core, and squeeze the seeds out.  This really isn’t as difficult as it maybe sounds.  I just run my thumb inside all the little tomato crevices and squish the seeds out.

Now just hack the bell pepper and the scallions up a bit, and throw all the veg into the bowl of the blender.

Scoop up the soggy bread, squoosh out all the excess water, (there’s a lot of squooshing going on in this recipe), and throw that into the blender too.  You can also add in the olive oil, bready water, sherry vinegar, salt, agave, and garlic powder.  (I like garlic powder because to me it’s a little less sharp than raw garlic.)

Let it buzz for a good long time, so it gets nice and smooth.

Set up a strainer over a big bowl.  I especially like the kind with the pour spout, so you won’t even have to dirty up a ladle.  I get pretty lazy when it’s hot outside…

Pour in the soup and let it strain.  You can speed up the process by stirring it around in the strainer.

Serve it mercifully cold and garnish as you wish!  (I’ve used some sliced scallions and a dribble of olive oil.)

Here is a 4×6″ printable recipe card for you:  Gazpacho Andaluz Recipe Card, but please just use it as a rough guide.  You can use as much or as little of any ingredient as you like.  You can even swap out ingredients!  And, as for the seasonings (salt, agave, and vinegar), you really just want to taste and decide for yourself.  A lot will depend on the produce you begin with.

Do you like to grow your own food?  What is your favorite seasonal summer ingredient?  How do you like to put your bumper crop to use?  Are you feeling pretty lazy these days, too?  I’m hoping nobody drops by unexpectedly and sees the layer of dust that is accumulating… if so maybe I can distract them with a nice cold bowl of soup.

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