Monday, July 20, 2009

Great Gazpacho

I get a huge amount of pleasure out of food, and I've always been a big eater. Because of this, I've always struggled with my weight. I probably should've rethought the whole notion of specializing in desserts at some point, to make things easier on myself. But I didn't, and I do, so there you have it. I try to compensate by playing a lot of tennis--3 or 4 times a week--and this certainly helps. But the calculus of how many calories I ingest versus the amount of energy I expend doesn't always come out in my favor. That's when I get a little on the desperate side and try to cut back in the calorie department. Tonight, for example, I am having one of my favorite summer meals, and it happens to be a completely healthy, low-fat one: gazpacho.

I love the fresh flavors of this substantial soup, and the fact that it can (and should) be prepared hours in advance. Using V-8 juice (a trick I learned as a garde manger cook in a French restaurant years ago) gives the veggie flavor another boost. If you happen to have some top-notch aged balsamic vinegar on hand, add a drizzle to the top right before serving.

Great Gazpacho
Makes 10 servings

5-6 perfectly ripe tomatoes
2 European cucumbers (the long ones that are wrapped in plastic), peeled, halved and seeded
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper
1 large red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups V-8 juice
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Hand chop tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and red onion into evenly sized pieces, about 1/4-inch cubes. Transfer all vegetables to a large bowl and add garlic, V-8, vinegar, oil, chives and salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and chill a few hours before serving. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

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