Foods from the Land of Don Quixote: Gazpacho 

  • Gazpacho. Nina M. Scott

Published: 7/21/2017 1:08:43 PM

In Cervantes’ picaresque novel, Don Quixote and Sancho spent much time adventuring in La Mancha, a hot, arid region of central Spain. Wearing an armored breastplate under those conditions must have been a real trial, not only for the wearer but for those around him. Sancho himself does not seem to own any changes of clothing, so he is no rose, either. There is little discussion of washing or bathing except when the two are hosted by the upper classes; however, there are descriptions of refreshing, shady glens with brooks of water, real oases in that landscape.

Spanish cuisine, too, offers oases in hot summer months. One of my favorites is gazpacho, an incredibly healthy, tasty and refreshing cold soup that is a staple in my refrigerator. It uses many vegetables which are prime in mid-summer: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic and onion, though it can be made with plain canned tomatoes. It also has bread, soaked in water, as a thickener. In Spain, bread is sacred and not wasted. Gazpacho ingredients are usually not carefully measured; you can add, subtract and substitute according to your taste.

Here’s a recipe for the gazpacho which I often make in small quantities because we are a household of two and if you keep gazpacho for a few days it can get “zesty,” as my husband says.

Gazpacho for Two

Source: Experience

2 slices white sourdough bread, soaked in water to cover

3-4 large, ripe tomatoes (or a 14.5 oz. can of plain, diced tomatoes)

1/2 large green bell pepper

1 small unpeeled cucumber

1 goodly chunk sweet onion

2 large cloves peeled garlic

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Put tomatoes in a blender, add the next four
ingredients and process. Add soaked bread plus its water and whirl some more. Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, all to your taste. Add 4-6 ice cubes to the mixture, stir and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In Spain, gazpacho is often served with small bowls of extra chopped peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and/or croutons. You add to your soup whatever you like, or leave it plain. One recent hot evening I paired it with a rotisserie chicken and a baguette. You can’t go wrong with gazpacho.

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