Until a couple of weeks ago, I never had much interest in gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold tomato-based vegetable soup, that has about a million variations. I had no real opposition, I knew it was a really healthy, light meal. I knew it would be great for the summer. And I know every season on top chef there are 4 or 5 versions of it (that and ceviche). It just always seemed weird to eat what basically looked like cold salsa.
But a couple of weeks ago, I saw a picture of gazpacho that looked delicious! It was thick, with a few chunks of veggies, but mostly smooth. It was topped with more chopped veggies, chopped avocado, sour cream, grilled shrimp, and served with a slice of grilled bread. I had almost everything for it in my fridge, and it seemed easy enough to make. And I have been hooked on it ever since.
I know this recipe is a little less traditional, as it uses V8 juice as the bulk of the liquid for the soup. I've made this strictly with raw vegetables, and by grilling some of the vegetables first, and I like both methods. The grilled vegetables are more difficult to dice evenly, but it adds a nice smoky flavor. But, if you're eating the gazpacho with grilled shrimp and bread, you are getting a lot of smoky flavor from those elements.
This is a great way to use up all those fresh summer vegetables you may have rolling around your refrigerator. It can be a vegetarian meal, a starter, or a light summery meal when served with grilled shrimp or chicken on top. You could even use this for casual entertaining, since its such a colorful meal (from all those veggies!). I made this last week when my friends were in town, and they seemed to enjoy it as well.
1 small zucchini
1 small pickling cucumber
1 ear corn (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper
2 c V8 or other vegetable juice
3 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
a couple dashes hot sauce
3-4 shrimp or about half a chicken breast per serving
a loaf of crusty bread
Preheat your grill over high heat.
Dice the garlic and jalapeno and put in the bowl of a food processor or a medium-sized bowl to use with an immersion blender. Add 2 T olive oil, the red wine vinegar, hot sauce, and V8 juice. Cut tomatoes in half and drain off some of the liquid. Finely dice the tomatoes and put in a separate bowl. I had one green tomato, which I though added a nice change in the texture and flavor. Dice the cucumber and add to the tomatoes. Shuck the corn and cut the zucchini in half.
Toss the zucchini, corn, and onion in 1 T olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put the zucchini, corn, and onions on the grill. Cook for about a minute on each side, just enough to get good char marks. Cool slightly and chop these vegetables, then add to the tomatoes and cucumber. Stir the vegetables together. Add about 2/3 of the vegetables to the V8 juice mixture, then pulse in the food processor or blender until not quite smooth. Stir in the rest of the vegetables, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
When ready to serve, season shrimp or chicken with salt, pepper, chili powder, and olive oil, then grill. Slice bread, drizzle 1 slice per serving with olive oil, and grill until just charred. Dice the avocado and toss with lime juice. To serve, scoop the gazpacho into bowls. Top with the avocado and shrimp or chicken, and serve with the grilled bread.