Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho

With many foods (slaw for one), I am always looking for that allusive "perfect recipe". Gazpacho is one of those dishes that I have yet to perfect. I try it when I get a chance in restaurants. I taste it slowly. I hold it on my tongue, trying to ascertain the individual flavors that have been so artfully blended together. I make Bo try it, trying to teach him the subtle art of "ingredient deconstruction"

I know what Gazpacho is supposed to taste like. I just haven't discovered "it" yet.

I know what it shouldn't contain. At least to taste fresh and natural to me. No tomato juice. No V-8. I also know what it MUST have - cucumbers!

Enter Roasted Vegetable Gazpacho. Tasty cold soup. Great for a hot day. NOT a "proper" gazpacho.

***Clarification - when I say "proper", I mean compared to those I have had in Spanish restaurants. I do not mean you have to feel (or taste) the way I do***

Issues: No cucumbers. WAY more red pepper than tomato, making it taste like a cold red pepper soup. Again, not a bad thing. Quite good, actually. But when my tongue is prepared for gazpacho, it expects fresh tomato and cucumbers.

Note the lack of cucumbers and the red pepper to tomato ratio.

I highly recommend trying this recipe if you like cold summer soups. It really was tasty. And I didn't even touch on the fact that the veggies are Grilled! I LOVE anything I can grill! So when I do find that elusive perfect gazpacho, expect a grilled variation too!

Grilled Gazpacho (Adapted from Diane Kochilas' Mediterranean Grilling)

2 red bell peppers
1/2-1 green chili pepper (to your taste), seeded
1/2 large red onion, quartered
1/2 lb medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/4 lbs large, firm tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large cloves garlic (unpeeled prior to grilling)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 T red wine vinegar

Heat the grill to medium-hot.

Place the peppers, onion, zucchini, garlic and tomatoes in a large bowl and toss with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place the vegetables on the grill, in batches if necessary, starting with the peppers and onions (10-12 minutes); the tomatoes (8-10 minutes); zucchini (6-8 minutes) and garlic (4-5 minutes). Grill until the zucchini are soft and lined with grill marks, the peppers and garlic are soft and charred, the onions lightly charred and softened, and the tomatoes softened and browned along the edges and wrinkled.

Remove the peppers to a bowl covered with plastic wrap or to a brown paper bag to cool for about 10 minutes. Then peel and seed, reserving their juices.

Coarsely chop all the vegetables (removing the garlic peel first). Place in a food processor with the basil and 1/2 cup cold water. Puree at high speed until totally smooth. Add more water to achieve the consistency you desire. Strain if desired through a fine-mesh sieve (I forgo this step as a like the texture as is).

Put the vegetable mixture in a container the add the vinegar. Place in the refrigerator and let cool for about 2 hours before serving. Adjust the salt and pepper and add more olive oil if needed.

If you have the time, this tastes even better the next day!

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