I grew up eating tomato soup made two different ways: heated up Campbell’s condensed mixed with water, or for a special treat, mixed with milk. The first time I heard about gazpacho, I was totally disgusted by the thought of cold tomato soup. But, when I saw it on a menu during my first trip to Spain, I figured when in Rome (or when in Madrid, to be exact.) In Spain this is a quintessential summer dish, that exceeds the sum of its ingredients. If you’re still icked out by cold tomato soup, think of it as a liquid salad or savory smoothie.
- 2 large tomatoes, quartered
- 2 medium bell peppers, deseeded
- 1 medium cucumber, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth and if desired, chill until ready to serve. Serves 4 as a side dish.
It’s the peak of the summer harvest right now, which means it’s time to make pistou. What’s pistou? It’s the Spanish version of ratatouille, and is easier for me to spell. (Aren’t you glad you asked?) Anyways, whatever you call it, it is a classic Mediterranean summer dish filled with fresh veggies that is already vegetarian, so no modifications were needed.
It does call for a bit more of oil than I usually use, and while I’ve tried to cut it back, the eggplant becomes unhappy. And while I also try and cut back on longer prep steps, peeling and salting the eggplant is pretty necessary: otherwise, it can be bitter. By itself, it makes a nice but light dinner. The traditional Spanish way of serving this dish is to poach eggs in it just before serving. When I’m short on eggs, like this week, I add some plain Greek yogurt for protein or have a side of bread and cheese. My sister who first introduced me to ratatouille serves it over orzo and topped with parmesan or goat cheese. However you do it, it’s yummy and packed full of veggies.
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeleed and diced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 6 medium tomatoes, diced, or 2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 4 eggs (optional)
- Put eggplant in a colander in the sink or over a bowl, salt generously and set aside for half an hour. When ready, throughly rinse the eggplant and shake off most of the excess water.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle with salt.
- Add the eggplant and cook until most of the oil is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and bell pepper, stir until coated and evenly mixed.
- Add the tomatoes, juice and and all, stir into the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, and adjust salt to taste.
- If desired, crack one egg at a time into a mug, then gently pour into the pistou, taking care to not break the yolks.
- Poach until whites are set and yolks are at their desired hardness.
- Serve with 1 egg per bowl.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.
Deborah, my favorite farmer, tends to be very generous with almonds. Last week, when I was putting away my latest delivery of 2 pounds of almonds in my freezer, I realized that I already had 9 pounds in there. I’ve mostly been using them for making almond butter and having a batch of spiced almonds at my desk for when I get hungry. Clearly, I needed to branch out and step up my consumption. While checking under almonds in the index of my copy of Cooking in Spain, I discovered a recipe for almond soup. This was a bit labor intensive, but sooo tasty: rich but not heavy. It also called for bread, and since I still had had half a loaf of failed bread on hand, this recipe was a win-win. A word to the wise, it calls for blanched almonds, which weren’t too hard to make myself. Simply put the almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, let them sit for 1 minute, drain off the hot water, rinse with cold, and drain again. Then spend 20 minutes or so in front of the t.v. popping the skins off.
Sopa de Almendras
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 lb blanched almonds
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 lb bread, diced (preferably stale)
- 10 peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat, and in it, toast the almonds, saffron, garlic & bread, until they are lightly golden. Poor into a food processor or blender along with peppercorns, cumin, vinegar and 1 cup of broth, and process until smooth. Heat remaining broth in the same pot, whisk in the puree, and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.
Part of getting a CSA is often a commitment of seeing the same vegetables (and fruits) in your box for weeks on end. I’ve been eating some kind of pumpkin or roasted squash weekly since October. But with that comes the challenge to do something different with it almost every week so you don’t get tired of it. When I get my email describing what’s in the box, I hit the index of my cookbooks looking for a new recipe. I hadn’t considered my Spanish cook book (Cooking in Spain by Janet Mendel, if you’re curious!) for dealing with pumpkin before, but this week I flipped through just in case. There were several that all looked interesting and one that only called for ingredients that I had on hand. I roasted my hunk of pink banana squash (hard squash of the week!), threw the rest of the ingredients in my food processor, then poured it over chickpeas & rice. So delicious! It’s very refreshing and bright tasting, and made me feel like I was back in summer. For the carnivores out there, this would be delicious over roasted pork. (Spanish food always makes me think of pork).
Andalusian Pumpkin Sauce
- 1 lb roasted hard squash or pumpkin OR 1 can pumpkin
- 1 tomato seeded and peeled OR 1/2 can diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider, red wine would also be delicious, not balsamic)
- 1 clove garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
Pour all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add a little water if too thick. Enjoy! Serves 4 to 6.