Kitchen Garden Gazpacho


World Kitchen Garden Day Happy World Kitchen Garden Day!
Here’s hoping that all our family, friends and everyone else can ride out Hurricane Irene with not too much damage.

Is there a more appropriate way to celebrate International Kitchen Garden day than by making a Garden Gazpacho? I don’t think so!

Our tomato plants never grew very high this year, but they have been yielding a ton of delicious fruit.  We’ve got all shapes, sizes and flavors out there, and that’s plenty to choose from when you want make a gazpacho.

Gazpacho is another one of those unclassifiable dishes; everyone has a version. If we can all agree that gazpacho is a pureed salad, served cold, then no one needs to quibble about what an ‘authentic’ gazpacho should be.

This version is a riff off that Ancona baccala dish we were served in Portonovo. Baccala,  salt-cured cod fish, is delicious teamed up with tomatoes and olives, so it made sense to feature a little baccala in the gazpacho.

Garden Gazpacho with Crisped Baccala Food Mill
1 small piece of skinned, and soaked baccala, about 6 oz
1 basket of tomatoes, about 1 lb.
2-4 small green and red peppers
1 small red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 peeled carrot
2 stalks of celery
Salt, pepper, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar

For garnish:
2 T thinly sliced red and green peppers
2 T pitted and thinly sliced black olives

Clean and chop the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Lightly salt the tomatoes, stir and let stand for 1 hour.
After an hour, when the tomatoes have softened and given up some of their juice, pass them through the food mill on a fine setting so that the pulp of the tomato passes through, but all seeds and skins remain behind. Discard the seeds and skins.

Roughly chop the peppers, onion, garlic, carrot and celery, and put them in the blender. Add the tomato puree, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Taste..and add salt and pepper as needed and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Pour the soup into a container and chill until it’s time to serve.

I’ve gone native…Italians don’t like freezing cold anything unless it’s gelato.
Even water is negotiable; beyond determining if your dinner partners like still or bubbly water, you then have to determine if they would like it ‘fresca’ or ‘ambiente’.  In Italy, just ordering water can require the negotiating skills of Henry Kissinger.

So, I didn’t actually put the gazpacho in the fridge, just in a cool, dark part of the kitchen. I think the flavors are more mellow and expansive if the soup isn’t served very cold. But, that’s just me…you serve the soup the way you like it.

Kitchen Garden Gazpacho To serve:
Crumble the cleaned, soaked, ready to be cooked baccala and saute in olive oil until there is some brownage and crispy edges.
Salted baccala needs to be soaked for 6 hours or even over night to remove the salt. If I don’t have much time, I’ll soak it for at least 4-6 hours with frequent changes of water. Then give the cod fillet a very quick poach in boiling water to remove the remaining salt.
It’s easier to add a little salt than to try and deal with excessive curing salt.

Mound the crisped baccala in the center of the plate, scatter the shreds of pepper and olive around the bowl, and gently pour the gazpacho into the bowl.
Now mangia and enjoy the taste of your garden!

Buon Appetito!

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