Two weeks ago I saw the first red leaves. Now, on August 18th, there are red and gold dashes up and down the Hudson Valley. And many of those trees that were bright green in July have adopted serious traces of brown camouflage Autumn is arriving, sooner than normal and, at night, brisker too.
Still you have time to enjoy whatever bounty the summer sun extended to us. Now is the perfect time for a last summer gazpacho, using whatever you can find on hand at your local supermarket.
Here’s what I found last week and how I used it to make a lovely, dense and spicy gazpacho. And, it’s a fast feast that you can use as a side dish or the main course if paired with a salad. And some white wine.
Brian’s End of Summer Gazpacho
Yield: serves 4
- ½ pound of tomatillos
- 1 poblano chile
- 1 pound of plum tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 red onion [yes, Spanish Red, not white, not Vidalia]
- ¼ to ½ cup red wine vinegar [or your preference]
- Salt and pepper
- Sugar to taste, optional
- Optional: garnishes of croutons, sliced scallion, sour cream
The most time you’ll spend here is roasting the tomatillos and poblano. I use a stovetop grilling platform — you can find these in Mexican markets or online — to grill the tomatillos until they have begun to blacken and soften. Toss them right into your blender. The poblano has to be blacked all over, which means you do with quarter turns on the grill every few minutes. With tongs toss it into a paper bag and close the bag so natural steaming can work its wonders. Wait ten minutes, pull the pepper, remove the blacked outer skin, and dice. I like to keep the seeds for intensity and texture. Add the poblano to the blender.
The tomatoes you can do two ways. The “right” way is to cut an X on the bottom of each one, plunge them into boiling water, and then remove after 10 second. Wait a minute, then remove the skin and dice. Add to the blander.
The “fast” way is to ignore the skins, leave them on, and just dice the tomatoes.
If you are lazy but a purist, it depends on how ambitious you are. I suggest another cup of coffee and the right way
Add a clove of garlic, smashed, to the blender. Two or more if you adventurous and not going out on a date. Or if you are already married.
Peel the cucumbers, quarter them and removed the seeds. These seeds are irritating, so they go. Add the cucumber strips to the blender.
Peel and dice the onion. Add to the blender.
Now, let your blender crank away until you achieve a smooth mixture. This can take a couple of minutes. If you must stop the blender and manually push components down, that’s fine.
Stop the blender. Add ¼ cup of vinegar and at least a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Blend to mix, taste test and adjust with more vinegar or salt.
Refrigerate until truly cold. At that point, taste test again and add vinegar, salt, or pepper as necessary. Me? At this point I have been known to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar. It depends on how much summer sun we have had and how sweet those veggies are. Gazpacho is best on the sweet side. It can taste ragged if the sun has not endowed those tomatoes and cucumber with enough sugar.
Serve in chilled bowls with toppings of croutons, scallions or sour cream. No, this gazpacho was not made with the traditional breadcrumbs but you could add ½ cup of them if you wanted.