24 May 2005

Gazpacho and Ensalada de lentejas

Once again, it's summer, and time for gazpacho. If you don't know gazpacho, try it. It's lovely. But don't use the the recipe in Pedro Almodovar's Mujeres al bordo de attaca de nervios... (barbiturates are not an essential ingredient).

Most gazpachos have oil and breadcrumbs, which make them heavy and filling. This one is light and delicious, like liquid salad. Put in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, if you really want to, but leave out the breadcrumbs. Garnish with croutons if you like bread. Use a mandolin to cut up the vegetables if you have one.

Flexible Gazpacho Andaluz

1½ lb. ripe garden tomatoes, cut in chunks, carefully preserving juices (If all you have is supermarket tomatoes, used canned tomatoes instead, they're riper).
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut up
1 good size cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks. Sweet onions are nice here.
1 clove garlic, toasted in the jacket in dry skillet, then peeled and minced (optional; or use raw if you don't mind the sharpness of raw garlic)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut up into chunks (optional, but it adds a nice fruitiness; pear is good too)
¼ - ½ tsp. tarragon or something similar; basil or marjoram. Not rosemary or sage, they're too distinctive.
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup tomato juice or ice water
1 tsp. sugar (may omit if using apple; substitute 1½ tsp. honey if you want)
2 tbs. wine vinegar, or 3 of rice vinegar (more vinegar to taste)
Few drops worcestershire, if desired

Mix in batches in blender until no big chunks remain, but don't puree. Strain, pushing mixture thru with wooden spoon into large bowl. Stir thoroughly to blend all the batches of different stuff into a unified mixture.

Chill at least 3 hours, better overnight. Keeps several days in refrigerator. Serves 6, but just barely (no room for seconds). Recipe can easily be doubled, if you want to make a lot.

Serve cold in tall bowls if you have them. Set out with small bowls of cut up onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and croutons, if desired, as garnishes. (Traditional in Spain).


A good accompaniment:

Ensalada de lentejas (Spanish Lentil Salad)

2/3 cup of lentils, washed
2 cloves garlic, toasted in the jacket in dry skillet, then peeled and minced
2 cloves
½ tsp. cumin
bay leaf
2 tbs. pimientos, cut into strips
3 tbs. wine vinegar or use rice vinegar
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
(optional) 1 small zucchini
½ cup shredded carrots... use more if you like more carrot

Put cloves and bay leaf in a bouquet garni or tea ball. Cover lentils with water at least 2 inches above surface of beans, add salt (about 1 tsp.) and cumin. Bring to boil, cover then cook on low heat until not quite tender, about 30 minutes. At this point, add the zucchini, cut into ½ inch pieces, and re-cover. Continue cooking another 5 min. or so, until lentils are just tender. If not using zucchini, skip this step, and just cook straight through until just tender, about 35 min.

Remove bouquet garni and pour beans into strainer and immediately rinse thoroughly with cold water, until cool.

Add remaining ingredients to lentils in bowl, stir together, add salt and pepper to taste; add other herbs like Ms. Dash if you want to, but not too much. Chill, preferably overnight, as it gets better if the ingredients marinate together for awhile. Serve cold. Serves 4, or 6 if you're giving French-size portions.

These two and a little pasta with pesto or agli oli, and/or bread (such as garlic bread, pan con tomate, or bruschetta) will make a light summer supper.

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