As I was writing up this post, I came across this article by Nigel Slater on the ins and outs of preparing Gazpacho, the variations that exist and how even Spaniards disagree as to the correct preparation. This all made me feel a bit better about my somewhat bastardised version of a Gazpacho I was planning to make for dinner the other night.
So why is my Gazpacho a bastardised version of the original? Well, while I tried to stay true to the essence of the dish, a chilled soup made from a combination of tomatoes, cucumber and peppers, I gave it a bit of a Mexican twist, a twist most Spaniards would likely frown upon.
It all started out with remembering some dried ancho chilies I bought a while back. Ancho chilies (‘ancho’ means ‘wide’ in Spanish) are not very spicy at all, on a scale of 1 to 10 they get a mere 3/10 (although this can vary). Instead, ancho chilies are used in lots of Mexican dishes for their sweet and smoky flavour. Although we have not exactly had anything remotely close to a summer in the UK this year I was not ready to start cooking up hearty Mexican stews to use my ancho chilies. Instead, and given the mountain of tomatoes I bought this week for no particular reason, I let the anchos soak in hot water until nice and plump and threw them into some Gazpacho. With the addition of lime juice instead of the more traditional vinegar, some fresh cilantro, and served with crumbled goat’s cheese, mashed avocado and some blue corn chips, this Spanish staple quickly took on a more Mexican theme.
Mexican Gazpacho (serves two)
1/2 cucumber, chopped into small chunks
1 handful of cherry tomatoes
1 can of peeled tomatoes
2 yellow or red peppers
1 ancho chilie, soaked in water for at least 1hour
1 garlic clove, minced
1 avocado, mashed
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
ca. 50g crumbled goat’s cheese (or other mild and fresh cheese like feta)
Chopped cilantro, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 handfulls of corn chips, optional
1. Place all the vegetables, the garlic clove, the olive oil and half the lime juice in a tall jug. Using an immersion blender puree as smoothly as you like – while I stop short of turning this into a smoothie, you can choose whichever texture you prefer.
2. Season with salt and pepper and some more lime juice if necessary. Divide Gazpacho between two bowls, drizzle with the remaining lime juice and top with the mashed avocado, the crumbled cheese and the chopped cilantro. Serve with some blue corn chips.