Because I enjoy salad, for years I was told that I would ‘love Gazpacho’ – which was described to me as liquidised salad. To be frank, this put me off it for about two decades. I can’t think of anything worse than blended lettuce and salad.
But….when I was in Spain last summer I became addicted to their local speciality: Salmorejo.
This is a version of Gazpacho (which admittedly I now do like – OK OK, everyone was right!), a chilled soup, although it’s very thick and almost like a dip. Salmorejo doesn’t have cucumber and peppers in. It relies solely on tomato for flavour, along with olive oil and vinegar.
It is thick, creamy, tasty and satisfying. The delicate flavour caresses your mouth, with hints of garlic, olives and tomatoey sweetness. It is unbelievably good.
What makes it even more fun is how it is served. Sometimes it has wonderful jamon (Spanish ham) scattered on it. But my favourite was a restaurant in Ronda which served it the way I have imitated….
It is studded with hard-boiled egg, tuna, grilled red peppers, basil leaves and little crackers. The addition of all of this makes it into a meal.
Or is it art??!!
Ingredients (serves 4)
8-9 large tomatoes
3 tablespoons excellent olive oil (I used Spanish extra virgin)
1-2 tablespoons excellent vinegar (I used caramelised red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon sale
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove of garlic
About 100g of a crusty white loaf, crust removed.
The fiddly bit is peeling and seeding the tomatoes. It seems like a hassle, but it makes all the difference in the world. To peel them, slash the skins with a knife and pour boiling water from the kettle over them in a bowl. After 15 seconds take out the tomatoes and the skins will slip off.
Then cut them in half around the middle and gouge out the seeds with your fingers, and cut out the hard green little core. Keep the seeds and juice you remove, as you can sieve and reduce them slowly on a low heat to make the most fantastic tomato concentrate (good for stews, burgers etc). Also – the crusts you remove make good breadcrumbs or bird food (even when cooking I try not to waste things).
Then place all the ingredients in a blender and blend.
Adjust to taste (you may need more or less sugar depending on how ripe your tomatoes are – likewise vinegar).
It should be really thick – more like a dip than a soup.
Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.