Friday, October 12, 2012

Gazpacho with Shrimp

My beautiful Angel, Clare, and I both love gazpacho.  The chilled tomato-based soup has some very old roots originating in the Spanish region of Andalucia.  According to some sources, such as Chef Clifford Wright and the Food Timeline, gazpacho is based upon recipes from the Moors, who occupied Andalucia between the 8th and 13th centuries. 

Gazpacho was quintessential cocino pobre or peasant fare.  The first recipes called for the use of bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and water.  The original versions of gazpacho did not include tomatoes, because that ingredient did not become available until after the discovery of the New World. 

As part of cocino pobre, recipes for gazpacho did not grace the pages of early Spanish cookbooks. The first recipe for gazpacho was published in an American cookbook, Mary Randolph's Virginian Housewife (Washington 1824).  The recipe provided, "Put some soft biscuit or toasted bread in the bottom of a salad bowl, put in a layer of sliced tomatoes with the skin taken off, and one of sliced cucumbers, sprinkled with pepper, salt, and chopped onion; do this until the bowl is full, stew some tomatoes quite soft, strain the juice, mix in some mustard and oil, and pour over it; make it two hours before it is eaten."  Since that time, the recipes have evolved, especially with technology, such as blenders and food processors.

This recipe for gazpacho does not come from a Virginian Housewife, but it does come from a wife ... Patricia Fernandez de la Cruz, who is the wife of José Andrés.  The recipe calls for the use of two pounds of ripe tomatoes, but it did not specify which tomatoes to use.  I decided to be a little creative and use some heirloom tomatoes.  Those tomatoes provided a yellow color to this soup, giving the soup its own distinctive color. 

Recipe from Healthy Eating During Pregnancy at 72
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the gazpacho):
2 pounds of ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup water
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
1 1/2 slices of bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients (for the shrimp):
12 large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt

Ingredients (for the garnish):
4 (1/2 inch thick) slices of bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Kosher salt
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon diced shallot
1 tablespoon of minced shallots, to garnish
Sea salt, to garnish

1.  Make the gazpacho.  Place the gazpacho ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth, adding more water if necessary.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and chill.

2.  Make the shrimp.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cut the shrimp lengthwise about halfway down so they open into a Y shape (this allows the shrimp to cook more evenly).  Once the oil is hot, saute the shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

3.  Prepare the bread cubes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put the bread cubes in a mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat evenly.  Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden, turning once or twice with a spatula, for 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool.

4.  Prepare the garnish.  In a mixing bowl, combine the plum tomatoes, cucumber, red and green bell peppers, and shallot and mix well.

5.  Plate the dish.  To serve, place three sauteed shrimp in the center of four soup bowls.  Arrange some of the tomato-cucumber mixture around the edge.  Sprinkle with chives and sea salt and top with some croutons. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.  Pour the chilled gazpacho into a pitcher.  Set the bowls in front of your guests and pour some of the gazpacho at the table.


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