Cool off with Green Gazpacho!

Last summer, when poking around to find the perfect recipes when I took the reins as Tapas Chef at BarComida, one of my most refreshing and popular experiments turned out to be Green Gazpacho.

This summer, my guests report a similar experience as they did last summer. While it always renders rave reviews, they notice that it tastes slightly different each time they enjoy it.

Not surprisingly, it is a very forgiving recipe, and lends itself beautifully to adding your own signature and switching it up each time. When using simple base ingredients to begin, it will always be OK to add (and if you insist, subtract) seasonal green vegetables and related condiments that you love and/or have handy. You can trust that it will always refresh and please palates, regardless of how you choose to prepare it.

This Green Gazpacho also has special qualities that provide cooling relief during the summer, per the mention in our July 2012 Appetizing News issue, about the good work of Dr. Group of the Global Healing Center.

Cucumber, leafy greens, and a handful of fresh organic herbs are a powerful combination for cooling body temperatures, and all of the above are key ingredients in this chilled soup.

As a “small plate”, it makes an exquisite first course. A classy presentation is on ice: place a highball cocktail glass in a shallow dish, and surround with crushed or small cubed ice. Fill the glass half to three-quarters full of the soup, and finish it with some finely chopped herbs or chives, and a drizzle of fine extra-virgin olive oil.

I love serving it with two large cooked shrimp as a garnish on the side of the cocktail glass, or glass topped with rolled slices of ham - jamon serrano or even prosciutto - as shown in the photograph. Offering guests a protein that is interesting and pretty, as a dipper for the soup, makes the whole experience heartier and more Mediterranean.

So without further ado, here is the recipe for impressing and cooling off your guests this summer. Use this recipe as a base, and don’t forget to add or subtract whatever you think would taste good, because there’s an excellent chance that it will!

A la salud ~ as the Spanish may say ~ to your health!

Green Gazpacho

1 cup favorite greens, chopped coarsely (arugula, mustard greens, spinach)

2 cups lettuce, chopped coarsely (red/green leaf, iceberg, butter or mache’ lettuce)

1 pasilla chile, cored, seeded, chopped

1/2 English cucumber, or 3 small Persian cucumbers, sliced

3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves

3 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (add more if desired)

1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, chopped coarsely

1/2 cup sour cream, creme fraiche, or plain yogurt (add more if desired)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Finely chopped chives and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Thinly sliced ham or large cooked shrimp, for garnish

Place greens, lettuce, chili, cucumber, mint, parsley, cilantro, and broth in blender jar. Blend on high speed, scraping down sides of blender, until all ingredients are well combined. Add avocado and cream and continue to blend until creamy. Add desired amount of salt and pepper, also more broth and/or cream to adjust consistency; blend well. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve in cocktail glass with soup spoon, finish with chopped chives and drizzle of oil. Garnish with shrimp or rolled slices of ham, as desired. Yields 4-6 first-course servings.

Enjoy our full July newsletter, with tips for grocery shopping at the Original Farmers Market.  Little Spain at the Market, and also LaEspanola Meats in Harbor City, would love to be your go-to destinations for shopping Spanish ingredients!

Until next time, I remain ~

Your Chef and Tour Maestra

Diane Scalia

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