Salmorejo

While I have always been a fan of gazpacho, this version is one of my all-time favorite foods. For me, it is the food that speaks summer. I love summer. I eat salmorejo all summer long. The tomatoes at the market are finally halfway decent and I am in heaven.

I was in Seville with a friend from Madrid, both of us for the very first time. We went to lunch to get out of the oppressive Andalusian midday sun. There we were confronted by an extensive menu—with lots of things I didn’t recognize. When I asked about the salmorejo on the appetizer menu, my friend said it was probably something to do with salmon. While I love salmon, it seemed entirely too hot to start a meal with fish. (Every Spanish lunch has MANY courses.) He didn’t. The rest is history.

Ingredients

  • 2 extra large ripe tomatoes (or 3-4 smaller ones)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 slices thin baguette or 2 slices of a fat baguette, preferably stale
  • Water for soaking bread
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon plain red vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Unlike most of my recipes, salmorejo requires special equipment: either a food processor or a really tough blender (i.e., one that happily and easily creates frozen margaritas).
  2. Soak bread in water. I usually freeze the ends of baguettes that I’d otherwise toss because they get stale so quickly. I take the bread from the freezer, chop off a couple of pieces and toss them in water.
  3. Peel garlic, chop roughly and place at the bottom of the blender. (I have a really tough blender.)
  4. After coring the tough stem section, roughly chop the tomatoes and add to blender.
  5. De-seed the pepper, chop roughly and add to blender. Don’t worry if it all doesn’t fit at first. As you start blending, there will be more room. Add the rest then.
  6. Add oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse blender until it starts to liquidate. If that doesn’t happen (e.g., tomatoes aren’t juicy enough) add splashes of bread-soaking water until it does. Blend vegetables for at least 1 minute or until it’s clear there are no big chunks floating around.
  7. Add bread after squeezing out some of the water. Blend for about 20 seconds more. The bread adds a thickness to this particular gazpacho that is unique.

Before serving and in traditional Sevillana fashion, you can add chopped hard-boiled egg, croutons, pieces of Jamon Serrano (a very tasty cured ham, like prosciutto) or a splash of olive oil. Me? I like it straight.

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