Happy Labor Day! Hubby and I decided to invite a few people over for a Labor Day meal. Traditionally, it should be a cook out, but since our grill is still in Richmond, at the house we’re renting out to three dingbat med students, we had to come up with another idea. Hubby decided he wanted to make paella (his paella is excellent, by the way, but not really good fodder for this blog, as it’s only minus mammals, lactose, troublesome fiber, shellfish, and gluten, but chock full of smartpoints, fowl, fin fish, and a bunch of other things). We had talked about having some sort of refreshing vegetable side dish along with it, and originally I had landed on the idea of a slaw, so I had been perusing slaw recipes.
Then Saturday, for our 11th wedding anniversary, we went out to a new restaurant here in DC called Gravitas, which was, by the way, awesome. You order a bunch of small courses, but before you start getting those, they bring out some bread, fancy butter, and small glasses of gazpacho. I’m generally a gazpacho nut–I tend to order it everywhere I go all summer, but hubby isn’t a huge fan. We both really enjoyed Gravitas’s gazpacho, though–it was a tomato-watermelon gazpacho, more of a beverage than a chunky soup, and delicious. That inspired me to say, wait, gazpacho would be a refreshing vegetable side dish that would complement paella really well, since they’re both from the same country. So when we got home from dinner, I hunted for gazpacho recipes, and found a lot that turned into chunky soups, and one that claimed to be authentically Sevillian (is that the proper adjectival form for Seville?), being very thin and sippable. And the picture accompanying the recipe looked like what we had at Gravitas, so even though there was no watermelon involved, I decided to make that one. This recipe is minus high smartpoints, minus animal products, minus lactose, minus troublesome fiber, and minus gluten.
Gazpacho for Sipping
about 2 lbs. ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used 2 lbs., 2.7 oz. ripe red and purple heirloom tomatoes, but I would say that you could replace about 1/8 – 1/6 of the tomatoes by volume with the same volume (not weight) of watermelon to help sweeten the gazpacho and make it closer to what we experienced at Gravitas)
1 long, light green pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped (the original recipe called for cubanelle or Anaheim, but Whole Foods only had “long” and “Fresno,” so I went with Fresno, which looked the most like a cubanelle to me)
1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small-to-medium sweet onion, roughly chopped (the original recipe called for a small mild white or red onion, I chose what Whole Foods labeled as “sweet,” and a much smaller one than hubby put in the paella, but still probably technically medium in the whole spectrum of onions, and also yellow, not red or white. I think next time I would go with the small onion, as I found the end result a little oniony, though no one else complained.)
1 clove garlic
2 tsp sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more to taste–olive oil quality probably makes a big difference here. I just used regular grocery store brand, but if you went high-end, it would probably lead to a tastier result)
I used my Vitamix, putting all the veggies in in a Vitamix-approved order (wettest at the bottom, driest at the top, so tomatoes, then cucumbers, then peppers, then onion and garlic) but it got too full, so I had to blend the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers a bit first, then add the onions and garlic. Whatever works for your blending machine, get those veggies in there and start blending them up! Stop as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula. Once it has been blending a while, open the little cap at the top, and add the salt while it’s still blending. Then add the vinegar. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The olive oil will start making the color change. In my case, it changed to a nacho-cheese orange (the original recipe suggested it would become bright orange or dark pink).
Once it’s as blended as it’s going to get, pull out your favorite sieve (I only have this one, which I got a million years ago at the dollar store), and pour through the sieve, using your spatula to push the liquid through, but discard the solids that accumulate. The result will look something like this:
Cover, and chill. The original recipe suggests 6 hours to overnight. I think I chilled mine for close to 6 hours by the time we actually got around to sipping it.
Before serving, taste to see if you need to add more salt, sherry vinegar, or olive oil (or ice water to thin it). Mine was fine as is, no need for changes. This recipe was well-loved by our día del trabajo guests, because it’s creamy and delicious and perfect on a hot summer day (it’s also really good the next day, served over crushed ice). Based on the original recipe’s stated results of making 1 quart, I determined that this is 6 smartpoints per 4 oz. serving (when you drink your veggies, they suddenly don’t have 0 smartpoints anymore).