Tuesday, July 06, 2010

World Cup Buffet: Gazpacho (ESP - Spain)

Spain is closer than it's been to the World Cup than at any time since 1950, when they came in fourth. Saturday's game against also-never-been Paraguay was surprising in that Spain just didn't find their footing against a team everybody said would certainly lose. Both teams missed opportunities to score, but Spain finally did in the last ten minutes, with no help from what some said was an incompetent Guatemalan referee (that's one story of this World Cup: incompetent referees).

Country: Spain (IOC/FIFA Abbreviation: ESP)
Nickname of National team: La Furia Roja (Spanish, "The Red Fury")
Number of World Cups they have appeared in: 13
Highest finish: fourth place (1950)
Common foods: seafood (showcased in paella), ham, beans, migas, flan, eggs/omelettes, gazpacho
Number of Spanish restaurants in the Baltimore area: There are several tapas restaurants in and around Baltimore, so Spanish food isn't hard to find.
Number of Spanish restaurants in the Washington area: Same as with Baltimore.

Paella can be a time-consuming and expensive dish to prepare, and with the all the meat from the other buffet dishes - bobotie, German sausages and Uruguayan asado - something cold, refreshing and vegetarian would be a nice change. The solution is kind of obvious: gazpacho.

I have made gazpacho a few times before, whenever I am faced with a glut of tomatoes in the summer. The basic recipe for this cold soup is not difficult. Blend together in your food processor or blender the following: bread crumbs, fresh diced tomatoes with diced cucumbers, peppers (bell and/or hot depending on your taste), diced onion & garlic with tomato juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil, herbs such as basil and parsley, and salt, pepper and (again to taste) Tabasco sauce.
Serve with a dash of olive oil and chopped onions and/or cucumbers. The amounts of ingredients will usually vary greatly depending on the recipe. Even the Food Network has dozens of gazpacho recipes, some that are very tomato heavy and others where the other vegetables overpower the tomato (yes, tomato is technically a fruit). Some people like a chunky gazpacho but I prefer mine extremely smooth.

Some recipes omit the bread crumbs altogether, which is not a big problem for me since I don't like the grainy texture the bread crumbs sometimes give. Still it seems there should be some crumbs in a traditional gazpacho recipe. So when I finally did make my own, using a recipe from Anne "with the random Cookie Monster voice" Burrell, I had to put in the requisite bread crumbs, from bread I made myself no less. Burrell mandates 8 slices of bread for 2 pounds of tomatoes. Burrell's recipe is good, but I actually cut back on some of the bread the second time I made this.

Most people probably would recommend against freezing gazpacho for a whole year, but I did just that. The texture is a little grainy but the tomato tang is still very strong and the freshly-thawed gazpacho feels quite good on a 104° day. Cilantro, cucumber, red onion and olive oil are all good garnishes for your gazpacho.

That is it for our World Cup Buffet. We have our semifinalist teams in place for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: the Netherlands take on Uruguay and Germany take on Spain. The losers of each match face off for the title of third place finish, while the winners go on to the big finish on Sunday! And while I won't be preparing a buffet or anything, if you feel the need, you now have a menu.


Pigtown-Design said...

i made gazpacho on the 4th. i have an immersion blender, so i did it in small batches. i usually add tomato juice of v8, but because the blender liquifies things, i didn't need to do that. the soup was delish, although i should have added a dash of tabasco.

John said...

I'm ready for a bounty of tomatoes. I have friends & family growing them, plus a tomato plant with a few green ones already. Oooh, I wonder what green tomato gazpacho would taste like?