Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Gazpacho with homemade garlic croutons

This is one of the most refreshing savory dishes you will eat all summer.  It's over-flowing with flavor and the best part is - it's healthy!  C'est parfait!  The cool, crisp cucumber, combined with sweet tomatoes and the crunchy zing of red onions makes for a perfect bite topped off with crusty garlic croutons. Sometimes I put a dollop of crème fraîche on top to add a bit of creamy richness to the soup.  It's a great lunch or a mouth watering starter for a summer barbecue.

La Recette:
1 English cucumber, cut in half vertically, seeded scraped (I use a spoon to do this), then dice -do not peel.
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 plum tomatoes, chopped (I cut the sides off of the tomatoes leaving the seedy core intact.  The seeds will make the soup too watery.
3 1/2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar - I like Napa Valley Naturals.  If you can't find champagne vinegar, any white wine vinegar will work.  *I happen to use this type of vinegar with so many recipes.  It's worth searching for :)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
4-6 dashes tabasco sauce - optional
Dollop of crème fraîche - optional

Garlic Croutons-
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bread, toasted - I think Udi's makes the best croutons
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
 1 clove garlic

-Chop all of the vegetables and garlic.  Put them into a large bowl.  Add the tomato juice and mix well.  Add the champagne vinegar, olive oil, tabasco sauce and salt and pepper.  Mix until combined.  Chill for a least 2 hours or preferably overnight.  The longer it sits, the more the flavors can develop and come together.  

-For the croutons,  line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.   Place the bread on the foil and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the bread.  Using your fingers, gently rub the olive oil into the bread - it should be covered with the olive oil.  
-Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toast in a toaster oven or regular oven until crisp and golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
-Take a clove of garlic and put it on the end of a fork.  While the toast is warm, gently rub the garlic over each piece a few times.  Let the toast cool, then slice it into cubes.  Enjoy!

*Serves 4-6

*Crème fraîche is a soured cream containing 30-45% butterfat.  It is less sour than U.S. style sour cream, has a lower viscosity and higher fat content.  

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