Gazpacho

Salad in a bag

I started this week with a salad bag which had two fat red peppers, a couple of baby cucumbers and some cherry tomatoes, two lovely baby gem lettuce and some cherry tomatoes and I immediately thought – soup!.  What with the sweltering weather this week, of course it had to be cold soup and nothing is more refreshing for lunch on a hot day.

Gazpacho is nothing more than a liquidized salad and you can add all sorts of different ingredients from lettuce to radishes to celery but the basics are red peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. I like to add a small red onion and one garlic clove but be careful because raw onion and garlic, if added too enthusiastically, can overpower the other vegetables. My only other addition apart from salt, pepper, Spanish olive oil and vinegar is a red chilli.

Gaz Salad

So simple, so quick, so delicious and so good for you. Just make sure you take the time to peel the vegetables before liquidizing to get a nice texture. You need a really efficient peeler for this so make sure you invest in a good one with a sharp edge. So many times I see people struggling away with a completely blunt peeler. I like the D shape ones best but if you can’t find a basic one then OXO always seems to make good equipment.

The balance of vinegar is important but just add a little at a time. It should be gutsy and not bland. I use a blend of half-half red wine vinegar to sherry vinegar. You can find some very good sherry vinegar in the supermarket which is worth the money, but for the red wine vinegar you can just go for the cheapest. Finally, it must be very cold. Add an ice cube or two when liquidizing if you are in a hurry.

Gaz in a Bowl Small

Gazpacho

1kg really ripe tomatoes

2 Red Peppers, peel of as much skin as possible with a peeler, de-seed and roughly chop

2 baby or one large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped

1 very small red onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove

1 fresh red chilli, peeled and seeds removed

A generous glug of extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish

A generous glug of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (I like to use half/half)

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make a small cross on top of each tomato with a sharp knife.  Blanch the tomatoes by placing them into a pan of boiling water for a few minutes.  Remove them and refresh in cold water.  Remove the skins.  Add all the other ingredients and either puree in a liquidizer or simply use a hand held blender.  Whiz until completely smooth.  Check seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste.  Chill in the fridge and serve very cold.

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

Box week 5

Tempted once more but the promise of broad beans, radishes and home-grown mini cucumbers, none of which are quite ready at my allotment, I opted this week for a small vegbox (less roots). It did not disappoint with some of the fattest radishes I have seen, albeit a little dirty, but nothing a quick wash did not fix. Straight away one of my favourite salads came to mind, which I am pretty happy to live of all summer if needs be. This is a basic Fattoush, the famous Arabic bread salad, with a few extras thrown in, namely radishes and broad beans. Remember all these recipes are flexible and you can add what you please including feta if you wished to make it more substantial.

The knack of a good Fattoush is that it should be very juicy and not at all dry. The pitta however should remain crunchy and therefore it must be beautifully crispy before adding, so that it does not become soggy in the salad. If you are not eating the salad straight away, then don’t add the toasted pitta until serving. Don’t forget to top-up from Riverford with all the extras you might need such as red onions, lemons, mint and olive oil.

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

Fattoush Salad with Radishes and Broad Beans

2 pieces of pitta bread

Extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch radishes

1 baby cucumber

2 large tomatoes

100g broad beans in pods

1 small red onion

1 lemon

Small bunch mint

Sumac (optional)

Sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C. Put a small pan of water on to boil. Rip the pitta into small pieces and toss generously in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. You will need to check it regularly and each time shake the tray. Move any well done pieces to the centre and less done pieces to the outer edges, where they will cook quicker. The pitta should be golden brown all over and totally crisp. Meanwhile cut your tomatoes into eighths and put in a large bowl. Wash your radishes and cut them in quarters and add to the bowl. Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut both halves into 1cm slices and add to the bowl. Shell the broad beans and add to the boiling water. Get a large bowl of cold water ready and once the broad beans have boiled for a minute, remove them with a slotted spoon straight into the cold water. This will help retain their lovely bright green colour. Squeeze the juice from half the lemon into another small bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt and stir until dissolved. Add about 2-3 times olive oil to juice. Stir very well and taste. The balance of the dressing is important. If it needs more lemon or salt, then adjust. Peel and very thinly slice the onion and add straight into the dressing. Remember to check your pitta and remove once done. Drain your broad beans slip them out of their skins and add to the salad. Chop the mint and add that too. Finally add the toasted pitta and dress generously. Toss everything together well before serving. Dust with Sumac if you desire.

Bunch of Radishes

 

Roast Ramiro Pepper, Chickpea & Coriander Soup

Finally for this week a warming soup, because although it is June, I am absolutely freezing! I love this soup because along with some nice lovely fresh bread, it is a meal in itself and it is so easy to make. You start by roasting the veg in the oven and there is none of the usual hours of chopping. Just roughly cut up the veg, chuck it in the oven and before you know it, it is done. I often cook this for Simon’s SuperClubs or for Riverford lunches because it is so simple and so tasty.

Ingredients for Red Pepper & Chickpea Soup

Roast Ramiro Pepper, Chickpea & Coriander Soup

3 or 4 Ramiro Peppers

2 Red onions (peeled & quartered)

4 cloves of garlic (peeled)

1 Fresh red chilli

3 tsp. ground cumin

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tin chickpeas

Small bunch coriander (roughly chopped)

1 to 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C. Cut the peppers and chilli in half and remove the seeds and stalks. Add the peeled and quartered onions and the garlic. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and drizzle with lots of olive oil. Cover with tinfoil and put in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the foil, stir well and return to the oven to roast for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip into a saucepan. Cover with water, but only just. Add the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the coriander. Using a hand-blender whizz up the soup into a puree. If necessary let it down with some more water to get the correct consistency and adjust the seasoning to taste. It should be quite spicy. Serve hot, swirled with some yoghurt to cut the heat.

Red Pepper & Chickpea Soup 2