Spanish people swear by it, and so do their doctors – it’s high in antioxidants which are thought to help prevent certain types of cancer and clean up free radicals in the blood. More studies show that it helps reduce blood pressure, despite containing salt. It also helps to prevent development of cataracts and improves general cardiovascular health.
On top of all that is that it’s supremely easy to make. Traditional gazpacho was made by crushing tomatoes, olive oil, cucumbers, red bell peppers, onions and garlic in a mortar. It was consumed immediately either as a cold drink or as a cold soup with bread.
In these technological days there are some who still like to keep up the traditional ways and still like to make their gazpacho in a mortar. There is nothing wrong with this at all, unless you are making it that way only to store it in the fridge for later. Gazpacho loses a great deal of its nutritional benefits if it isn’t consumed within minutes of being made.
That means, unless you want to be breaking out the mortar every time you want to provide healthy and delicious snacks for your friends or family, you’d be wise to get yourself a food processor. Rather than just pick up the first one you see at the market, do a bit of research on sites such as Mrs. FoodPrep, as a food processor can help you make much more than gazpacho.
There is nothing wrong with a simple, six-ingredient gazpacho, but there is equally no reason not to play around with the recipe either. I usually add some juice from a lemon and a hint of black pepper to the strict traditional recipe anyway, but then again, I’ve always had a rebellious streak.
Some of my other favourite gazpacho twists include briefly smoking the ingredients on hot coals before crushing them. This gives your gazpacho a wonderful smoky personality, perfect for a summer evening.
A twist from the deep south of the United States sees the gazpacho sweetened with watermelon and given a kick with habanero and poblano chillies. The Virginia version also adds crabmeat to turn a side dish into a main.
A New York recipe sees cherries added to the six original ingredients plus red wine vinegar and tabasco sauce. This is served up with croutons as opposed to bread, thus giving this peasant dish a more aristocratic air.
Then there are more deviant recipes – ever heard of white gazpacho? That’s right, not a tomato in sight. Use cauliflower instead and almonds if you want a stronger aroma.
Green gazpacho is a real delight, although it may be a little too strong for the palettes of young children. Simply use green, unripe tomatoes instead of ripened red ones. For a yellow gazpacho, use yellow tomatoes. You can add shrimp to this to give it a fuller flavour.
Incidentally, what we now call ‘traditional’ gazpacho only came into existence in the 1500s. Why? Well, before the Spanish arrived in Mexico they had never seen a tomato. The real original gazpacho was green and used cucumbers alone. Surprise your guests with this fascinating knowledge of Spanish cuisine!
Don’t forget that your gazpacho can be used as a dressing or a marinade if you think it will compliment whatever food it is you are preparing. Be aware that it will lose some of its nutritional value this way, though.
If you want to prepare a really great meal, I suggest the following: Plenty of fresh bread for people to rip and dip with, a simple lettuce and cucumber salad, dressed with olive oil and salt. Put a cheese plate out with a Manchego and perhaps some other goats’ cheeses. A jar of anchovies, pickled in vinegar and garlic should finish off the tapas. Then you can get the barbecue going and cook up some goat’s ribs and chicken legs. Once you’ve got all that on the table, make and serve up your gazpacho for your guests to use as a food to compliment the meat, fish, salad and cheese. Now sit back and look at the expressions of bliss on you’re the faces of your guests. You’ve just transported them from your dining room to an Andalusian village plaza. Enjoy!