Obedient Ingredients

A place to put cooking ideas to the test.

Gazpacho and Tomatoes

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Forgive the improper timing of this post; I should have made this available during the summer. But this is a favorite dish of mine and I couldn’t wait for next summer to proclaim this to the world. Time for a tasty ciencia experimento …

Question: What is the best tomato to use for gazpacho?

Research:

Gazpacho is a simple recipe, ideal for hot weather, and no two gazpacho recipes are the same. The history of gazpacho has roots in Arabs and Moors in Spain and the Romans. It’s a recipe of my peoples (not the Cuban/Puerto Rican side).

My grandmother’s recipe (who lived in Spain her entire life) is worlds different from other gazpacho recipes that Spainards claim to be “traditional.” My mother says there are as many gazpacho recipes as there are people in the world (I promptly responded “so there are 6 billion recipes of gazpacho out there?” She didn’t reply. I’ll take that as a yes).

To search for a good, authentic gazpacho recipe, I went to Google….

HA! Gotcha. I did not simply go to Google to get this recipe…

I went to google.es !!! The Google specific to Espana. Bam. Authentic.

Here are the basic ingredients I found on one of the first links to show up:

* tomatoes

* onion (no mention of what  type of onion, which was a problem I noted in a recent guacamole post)

* green pepper

* cucumber

* olive oil

* vinegar (no mention of what type, but this being a website from Spain, maybe it’s assumed they mean sherry vinegar)

* bread, soaked in water

* garlic

Source: Spain internet, es muy exotico http://www.euroresidentes.com/Recetas/Gazpacho.htm

Benefits of Gazpacho

What are some of the benefits of gazpacho?
- Being a vegetable soup (tomato, maybe mixed with sweet pepper, onion, etc.), gazpacho is a good source of minerals, vitamins and fiber.
- The tomato brings a large number of antioxidants such as vitamins E, A and C, vitamin K, potassium and licopen.
- The olive oil makes it a good source of non-saturated acids (such as oleic acid).
- Garlic is a good defense against infections, is an antioxidant, an expectorant and boosts the body’s defenses.
- The salt helps to retain water in the body, therefore it favors rehydration.
- The bread is a good source of carbohydrates of slow absorption.
- In some cases, small bits of ham, boiled egg, almonds, etc. are added, therefore getting an extra source of high-quality proteins.

In summary, gazpacho is a good source of nutrients, vitamins, helps to re-hydrate and refreshes, especially during the hot summer months.

Experiment:

I picked a recipe and made it three times, each time exactly the same, EXCEPT for the type tomatoes I used.

I used three tomatoes for today’s experiment:

Plum

Heirloom

and Cherry.

All red. All from the farmer’s market.

Here is my recipe I used today:

Half a loaf of french bread, ripped into small chunks.

5-6 Plum/Heirloom tomatoes, and the equivalent in weight of cherry tomatoes.

2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar, plus a little more for taste

1/2 cup of EVOO, plus a little more

Half yellow onion

2/3 cucumber

1 red pepper

about 4 medium size garlic cloves

sea salt and pepper

Instructions:

Here is what I did (3 times, to make three different gazpacho’s for this test):

Cut up the onion and pepper and cucumber into chunks (so it would be easier for the processor to process). Put those chunks with the garlic in a bowl.

I removed the stems/hard white cores from the tomatoes (the heirloom tomatoes has more hard spots on it; the cherry tomatoes required no surgery) and put them in the processor. I pureed them until they were liquidy.

I put the french bread chunks in a bowl in the sink. I then put a strainer on top of the bread. I carefully poured the tomato puree into the strainer, allowing the juices to fall from the strainer and soak onto bread. This is an important step, mostly because it makes the bread easier to blend into the mixture and it soaks up more taste.

Hard core gazpacho enthusiasts (I made that up, there is no such thing) will say to let it soak OVERNIGHT (that part is a real thing)!

Does soaking the bread overnight as opposed to 10 minutes make a difference? I’m not sure if there is a difference (note to self, this would make another great experiment).

After a few minutes of shaking the strainer, I strained as much of the tomato liquid as possible, and let the bread soak up the juices. Those wonderful, sexy tomato juices.

As I let the bread soak, I put the pepper, garlic, cucumber and onion into the food processor and puree it. As it pureed, I poured in the olive oil (slowly, because…it’s sexy), the sherry vinegar and the salt and pepper. This vegetable puree tasted pretty good on its own.

I looked back into the sink. Once all of the liquid was strained, I took the tomato soaked bread and put it in the processor and blended it. Then I took the rest of the tomato that was in the strainer and poured that in as well. I hesitated here for a second because I wasn’t sure if I should just throw out the solid parts of the tomato and just incorporate the juice. But I am testing how the tomato affects this recipe, so the more tomato I had, the more distinctive the results.

So I threw it in and processed.

And that was it.

I did that three times, each with a different kind of tomato. It was a lot of work, so I had a quick bread + homemade pesto break to give me strength.

Then it was time for the taste test.

The testing:

I put out 6 clear glasses, three for me and three for my girlfriend. I wrote “heirloom”, “plum” and “cherry” on cards and put them face down under the cups. I poured the appropriate type of gazpacho in each cup that corresponded with the card.

Since the glasses were the same, and because my GF did not know which gazpacho was which, I had her switch the cups around so I did not know which was which. The coloring was incredibly similar if not exactly the same.

Dinner at my place usually involves note taking.

Results:

Again, we tested three batches of gazpacho, looking for taste and texture.

The first batch I tried was very good, had a very smooth taste, full flavor, nothing too overpowering. I was able to get a good taste of all of the ingredients.

The second batch was clearly sweeter, by a great deal. Almost too sweet, for me, but my GF enjoyed this one. It wasn’t a bad sweetness, but it was clear it was sweeter than the other two.

The third batch was just OK. There wasn’t a strong tomato flavor. I was able to pick up more of the vinegar. My GF was able to pick up the other ingredients like the cucumber and onion over the tomato, including the vinegar.

We were both able to guess which batch was which, given our experience with these tomatoes before.

We turned the cards over, and indeed, we guessed correctly:

The first batch was heirloom.

The second batch was cherry.

The last batch was plum.

Conclusion:

The heirloom tomatoes tasted the best by far. The enjoyment my GF and I experienced while tasting this batch of heirloom gazpacho was a testament to the usage of superior ingredients. All of the tastes were subtle enough and mixed well with one another, and most importantly the signature ingredient – tomato – was neither overpowering nor underwhelming.

The cherry tomatoes were very sweet, which I did not find preferable. I admit that some might enjoy that sweetness. If I were to make gazpacho with cherry tomatoes again, I’d probably add more garlic and cucumber, as well as some spiciness to counterbalance the sweetness.

The gazpacho with the plum tomatoes was inferior to the other two in terms of taste. It was not awful by any means, but I would be careful with the vinegar and other strong ingredients added if I would want that tomato taste to shine.

Another good night of food testing. Here’s my wonderful mess:

Future tests:

Does soaking the bread the night before make a difference?

What about multicolored tomatoes?

What is your favorite gazpacho recipe?

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3 thoughts on “Gazpacho and Tomatoes

  1. Go back to Russia!

    But seriously, you say there are no gazpacho enthusiasts? I beg to differ.

  2. Pingback: Gazpacho Test 2 – Three Heirloom Tomatoes « Obedient Ingredients

  3. Great article and straight to the point. I don’t know if this is

    truly the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where

    to employ some professional writers? Thx :)

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