Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Salmorejo (Rustic Gazpacho)

In Spanish, the word "Salmorejo" translates to "salmon colored broth." A perfect description for the pink-tinged, chilled gazpacho popularized by Spain.

Gazpacho comes in many varieties. From the chunky, veggie-filled type to the smooth, velvety liquid, to the unconventional fruit filled kind, it is the ideal food to have when the weather turns hot and sticky, and eating is the last thing you want to do. 

As you can see from my last post on sangria, I am on a little Spanish cuisine kick. I think I am drawn to Spanish food because it exhibits a relaxed, casual sort of cooking that is lacking in modern American cuisine. Look at Bravo's television show, "Top Chef" for example. While we can all relish in the beauty of contestant plating perfection, the intricacies in which sauces are created, and the delicacy in which garnishes are manipulated, the truth of the matter is that the food is fussy and unrealistic. 

But in Spain- the gloriously sun-drenched Spain- food is clear and clean, simple and beautifully delicious. The whole premise behind tapas, small plates that are meant to be shared, is to have a snack while you drink. A whole meal based on snacking and drinking? Count me in. And what is that you say? A siesta the next day? I'm in heaven. 
Add "Salmorejo" and I've reached Nirvana. 

Recipe adapted from The Barcelona Cookbook, by Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer
(I have reduced the recipe to serve 2 people instead of 4-6 people, and have altered it slightly)

1 red bell pepper, diced

4 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, diced

2 slices of Portuguese bread, toasted and cubed

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups tomato juice

kosher salt to taste

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to drizzle

2 teaspoons paprika

More grilled bread, halved cherry tomatoes and black pepper for garnish

Run the tomatoes, red peppers, onion, garlic, bread and tomato juice through a food processor until it is almost-liquid. The mixture should still be a little chunky. Pour into a container.
Mix in the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add salt to taste.
Refrigerate the container for at least 2 hours.

Serve chilled and garnish with the grilled bread, halved cherry tomatoes and black pepper.
You can pour it into a small glass like I've done in the picture for a chic little starter.

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