This just might be my favorite time of year, in large part because the most delicious, most colorful heirloom tomatoes are available. With any luck, they are over ripe for the picking, too, at my farmer’s market (Andy and I shop the Hollywood one, as you followers on our Instagram account know all too well!).
Growing up with a mother who’d scarcely come to California from Spain when I was born and a father who tended to a large swath of homegrown tomatoes in our backyard, I got my fill of this cold, rustic soup. To good health, too, it turns out as a study published last year in the professional journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases reported that regularly consuming gazpacho can lower blood pressure significantly. Yes, it contains salt. But researchers theorize that the bioactive elements of the ingredients in gazpacho counteract any potential negative effects.
The high levels carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, in tomatoes also play a critical role. Carotenoids are antioxidants, key to anti-aging effects such as cleaning up free radicals in the blood system and from body tissues. They are also instrumental in eye health, such as staving off cataracts, as well well as carry anti-inflammatory characteristics.
Gazpacho is Andalusian in origin, and so it’s no surprise that the recipe I’ve adopted is from dear friends who live in Sevilla. Like so many of the women there, Ellie and her 3 daughters are gorgeous—and they whip up a concoction which is less caloric than the OG (original gazpacho!) recipe of yore which calls for more oil than listed here and stale bread to thicken (this version is still thick enough to enjoy, yet smooth enough to drink out of a glass). I first tasted Ellie’s version during my inaugural trip to the Feria de Sevilla—as a sure-fire hangover cure she’d push on us after we’d been dancing in the streets ’till sunrise!
It’s easier now than ever to make gazpacho, too, thanks to Vitamix, Bullets and the other new-generation, high-speed blenders designed to maintain maximum nutrients. I don’t even have to peel the tomatoes anymore, and that’s good as the skins are also high in valuable antioxidant flavonols.
Feria de Gazpacho
2 pounds of super ripe heirloom tomatoes
1 green bell pepper (seeded)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup of white wine vinegar (though I might add more to taste!)
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons of quality salt
Cut up tomatoes and bell pepper and drop into food processor. Add minced garlic, vinegar, olive oil and salt. Blend to fine purée. Taste. Add a bit more garlic, vinegar or salt to taste. Chill for an hour or more. Pour into a glass and enjoy as a drink (I love to fill our Honest Glasses by Orskov, as pictured here in our kitchen), or serve in a bowl and garnish with any of the following diced deliciousness: avocado, cucumber, boiled egg, tomatoes or bell peppers. Disfrute!