It’s summer…and the weather is HOT! (NOT that I am complaining…I am a summer baby, and I can take the heat). But sometimes, our bodies just crave the cold stuff. If the picture at the top of this post confuses you, it’s because there’s a bit of tromp d’oeil going on (that’s French for “tricking the eye”) – this soup was downright chilly!
I got the idea on Tuesday, when I was thinking of what to have for lunch, and what I had in my fridge. I was thinking that the crushed San Marzano tomatoes I had would make a lovely soup with a roasted red pepper, some Laughing Cow and fresh basil. But I didn’t want to go to the time, temperature and trouble of making a hot soup. So, I thought, why not use these ingredients to make my own version of a cool and creamy gazpacho?
For those of you who don’t know, Wikipedia tells us that “Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia.” I use the term gazpacho loosely, as I’m sure mine isn’t authentic (and, quite frankly, I enjoyed it more than any gazpacho I’ve had), but it was absolutely amazing, can be made in the bowl it’s served in, and uses only 4 ingredients (plus water, salt and pepper). What more could you ask for?
Creamy Cold Tomato and Red Pepper Gazpacho – serves one
*Some quantities are approximate, as I didn’t measure, just threw stuff in. I don’t think a little more or less of any one ingredient will ruin the dish, you’ll just give it your own unique spin.
- About 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes (use San Marzano if you can find them – they’re amazing)
- 1 jarred roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 wedges light Laughing Cow cheese
- A generous handful fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About the same amount of water as crushed tomatoes
Put the cheese in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds until softened. Add all remaining ingredients (except for the garnishing basil leaves) and puree with an immersion blender until smooth (if you don’t have one, you could throw this in a blender, but you REALLY should get an immersion blender, it makes life so much easier (unless you give yourself stitches with it…but that’s another story)). Chill in the fridge until nice and cold (or go for a few minutes in the freezer if you’re in a rush). Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy – that’s it, that’s all!
Paired with roasted cauliflower and a grilled cheese on a thin bun, this was the perfect lunch – the summer version of everybody’s favourite comfort food classic – tomato soup with grilled cheese. Please, please PLEASE try this soup. It is dead easy, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Totally refreshing, no heating up the kitchen, and minimal clean up – what more can I say to convince you?
Well, Ill try this: I loved the soup so much that I made it again on Thursday – exactly the same, didn’t change a thing. This time, some garlic scapes accompanied the cauliflower (both roasted), and I swapped out the thin bun grilled cheese for a quesadilla made with goat cheese, fresh basil, and grape tomatoes plus a few slices of full-sized tomato. Other than the tomato making the flatbread slightly soggy, the whole meal was delicious.
Now see that bottle in the back left? That was one of my delicious impulse buys at Winners on Wednesday. I should really stay away from the “home” and checkout sections of that store .Why? Because I go in to look for oven mitts and a spoon rest, and come out with this:
The spoon rest (at least I got one thing on my list – they didn’t have any oven mitts that I could see), rose water (it’s one of those things I see in recipes from time to time but can never find. Now that I have it I probably won’t be able to think of/find a recipe that uses it, because that’s the way my life goes), fudge brownie coffee (the crazy thing about this, is that I would tell you I don’t drink coffee – I just bought this stuff to add variety to my iced coffee drinks), freeze-dried apple/strawberry combo (I’m a sucker for freeze-dried fruit, love the stuff) and truffle (the mushroom, not the chocolate)-infused balsamic vinegar (it was fancy, French, and came in a spray bottle….I couldn’t say no!). And the crazy thing is, that’s not even everything I wanted to buy. I resisted the urge to get fancy tea (darn that promise I made to myself not to buy more until I used up my overflowing stash) and cute bowls that were ON SALE.
…anyway….I misted that vinegar over the roasted veggies and it was actually quite delightful. I love things in spray bottles – just so perfect for finishing things like roasted veggies and adding a touch of flavour. I will certainly re-use this bottle when the tasty vinegar is gone.
Speaking of cool, check out this AMAZING mega-salad that I had after UFC class with Donna Wednesday night. It’s a pumped-up summer time version of the watermelon/feta salad of a few weeks back. My greens were garden lettuce and arugula. Veggies: lightly cooked asparagus (the last, I’m afraid, until next year), cucumber, red pepper, tomato, and grilled zucchini and Vidalia onion. The herb-age was tons of fresh basil.
For added protein power, I grilled a Sobey’s BBQ Chipotle chicken breast (I did this and the veggies, along with steaming the asparagus and chopping the melon at lunch time, as I knew I would be home later, and I wanted there to be minimal time between getting home and enjoying this salad. The plate you see to the left, along with the chopped melon were waiting for this sweaty beast when she arrived home).
I threw all of the above into my standard “big salad” bowl (Pampered Chef medium square bamboo bowl, in case you were wondering) with a cup of watermelon and honeydew chunks (leftover from the Edible Arrangement), salt and pepper, and feta crumbles! My dressing was made with schmancy blueberry wine vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing, Dijon and olive oil. The fruity flavour went perfectly with the salad.
All in all, pretty much a perfect summer salad. Some people see eating salad for dinner as punishment, but I can ensure you, it is not so with this salad. It was the perfect mix of cool, crunchy, sweet, spicy and salty, and it was totally and completely satisfying.
What are your go-to cold recipes for hot weather?