It is hot in London at last -summer has arrived- being able to walk around in shorts, vest top and flip flops this weekend was just so liberating and feeling the warm sun on my skin was like getting the biggest hug from a long lost friend! May there be many more sunny days like these, so we can all finally top up our vitamin D levels naturally.
What better to cool yourself down with than a freshly made gazpacho, so delicious and easily prepared in advance for lunch in the garden or a picnic in the park . A thermos flask will do a fine job getting it there safely and cool. A little tip for extra long coolness, fill flask with iced water or put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before use.
I usually don’t eat that many tomatoes but you cannot beat the flavour of a sun ripened tomato in the summer, that’s is the only time to eat them really or of course when in Italy or Spain, the place to have gazpacho.
The original recipe often calls for bread, but I prefer it without, just simple fresh ingredients straight from mother natures vegetable garden. Tomatoes are a member of the night shade family, so I am sorry for those of you who cannot eat these red round champions of the summer, I will see if I can come up with an suitable alternative soup over the next few weeks.
Tomatoes are very rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their deep red colour, and some research has shown lycopene’s skin protecting properties, combined with its vitamin C , beta carotene and biotin content a must have on our plates this summer. Adding more antioxident rich ingredients including cucumber, garlic , spring onion, sweet red peppers and organic cold pressed olive oil just make the perfect addition for this delicious and cool summer soup. An here is how it’s made:
Gazpacho with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh summer herbs
Ingredients: ideally organic – serves 2-3
6-8 ripe large plum tomatoes- roughly chopped
1-2 baby cucumbers peeled and roughly chopped
1 small sweet red pointed pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1 small green pointed pepper, de -seeded and roughly chopped
2 spring onions- roughly chopped
2 -3 garlic cloves – roughly chopped
4-5 table spoons of organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar (with mother)
Himalayan sea salt and black pepper to taste
3-4 icecubes ( optional)
To garnish: a bunch of fresh basil or oregano & 1 hand full of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil, roughly chopped pistachios also work a treat
Remove stalks, wash tomatoes well, cut out the part that held the stalk, roughly chop and place the tomatoes in a blender. For an extra smooth texture or if you cannot find organic tomoatoes, blanch and remove the skin before blending (piercing a little cross with a knife at the top will make it easier to peel the tomatoes). I tend to leave it on as I want to make sure I get all the goodness from the skin and of course it is less work.
Next wash and roughly chop the cucumber and peppers (if non-organic please peel before chopping), remove the seed centre of the peppers and add to the tomatoes. Then wash spring onions roughly chop, peel garlic and add everything to the blender.
Now, top the vegetables with the olive oil and vinegar, starting with one table spoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt before blending until smooth. Season to taste adding freshly ground pepper and more salt and vinegar if needed. If you are in a rush, adding a hand full of ice cubes will produce already slightly cool gazpacho, but putting it in the fridge and leave it to cool properly is definitely the way forward as it will bring out the flavour as well.
Fill the Gazpacho into a nice Kilner jug or jar with a lid and leave to cool in the fridge for 30-60 minutes or longer. Serve in glasses or soup dishes garnished with freshly chopped oregano or basil and sun dried tomato or if you want to add a delicious crunch add some chopped pistachio nuts – finish off with a drizzle of the lovely cold pressed organic olive oil. This is the perfect summer starter that can be prepared in advance, it keeps in the fridge up to 3 days.