The Flaming Vegan

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Sizzling Summer Gazpacho
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Sizzling Summer Gazpacho

Gazpacho and summer go hand in hand. I can’t think of a better way to make the most of the season’s bounty. A perfect blend of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and vinegar, basic gazpacho bursts with fresh flavor. Served cold with crusty bread, it makes for a refreshing summer meal that doesn’t heat up the house.

Here are almost as many variations of gazpacho as there are varieties of tomatoes. The recipe below is based on one shared with me by my CSA (community-supported agriculture). The almond meal intrigued me. I hadn’t tried nuts in my gazpacho before.

I’ve made the recipe four or five times since tomatoes hit their prime in California, each time sharing it with family and friends in exchange for their honest opinions. This recipe takes all of their thoughts into account, and it has become a favorite. The combination of the almond meal and oil give it a silky texture that almost mimics a bisque, and I prefer the spice of the fresh wax pepper over using hot sauce. If you don’t have leeks, diced sweet onion or red onion will do but the flavor will be less mellow so tread carefully.

Gazpacho is a personal thing. Some folks like it thick; others thin. Some like to bite into the vegetables; others prefer a smooth texture. Experiment with different vinegars. We did. Balsamic sweetened the gazpacho; sherry vinegar made it sour. Red wine vinegar seemed to provide the best balance.

To me, the key to this recipe’s success is in the tomatoes used – the sweeter the better. I like to use a mix of sugary yellow grape tomatoes and red beefsteak tomatoes. Any variety will do but if you find yours lack sweetness, you can always cheat by adding a bit of sugar to the soup at the end.

Sizzling Summer Gazpacho

  • 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 leeks sliced, white parts only
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 Hungarian wax pepper, seeded and roughly chopped (wear gloves)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and black pepper

Put the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, onion, olive oil, almonds, vinegar, and garlic in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding water to achieve the desired consistency.

Depending upon the size of your blender, you may need to work in batches.

If you prefer your gazpacho chunky, reserve about a third of the chopped tomatoes and stir into the soup after blending. Serves six.

Nutritional Info: Each serving provides 130 calories; 8g carbohydrate; 10g fat; 2g protein; 1g fiber; 3g sugar

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