Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Vitamin C boost: chunky gazpacho

Have you seen those Emergen-C type of drink mixes on the market? They boast that you can get 1000 mg of vitamin C with each serving. I'm all for boosting my immune system, especially in our New England winters, but have you read the ingredients? They include "fuctose, citric acid, natural orange flavors, malic acid, orange juice powder, tapioca maltodextrin, silica, beta carotene, glycine, asparatic acid, tartaric acid, and cysteine hydrochloride." Phew. That's a turnoff. Why not get a super C boost with, you know, real food?! A bowl of gazacho is just what the doc ordered! It can be made with bright and colorful veggies including red, orange and yellow bell peppers, which have way more vitamin C than an orange. Red peppers have three times as much! 

Most people probably think of gazpacho as a cold summer soup for a hot day, but I also like it in the dead of winter. All those happy veggies and tomatoes are not only chock full of nutrients, but they also help hydrate me and my dry winter skin. The authentic way to make a Spanish gazpacho is by blending it to a pulp, which to me is such a shame. I like keeping gazpacho ingredients super chunky and crunchy. Think of it as a salad with a lot of tomatoey dressing on it. Viva la vitamin C!!

Colorful confetti!

Here is a rough recipe: I never measure anything when I make gazpacho, but I do taste for balance as I go along.  First, chop a variety of veggies. I generally use the ones you see here, which include red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, Persian cucumbers, celery, tomatoes (here I used red and small yellow ones),  minced garlic, red onion, and scallions. The perky sauce that these veggies all bath in is made with a spicy V8 juice, tomato juice, salt pepper, tobacco sauce for spiciness, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Don't underestimate the importance of those last two ingredients—the vinegar really brightens the flavors and the olive oil gives the gazpacho a sultry mouth feel. I add in chopped cilantro leaves when serving, and sometimes I'll add in a dash of smokey Spanish pimentón paprika too. This is a salad that you eat with a spoon!

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