The weatherman was right! The gray clouds are gone and the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. Temperatures are soaring. Spring is here and summer is on its way.
You can see it at the market too. The produce aisle is bright with fresh vegetables. Now that the light has changed the produce looks even more enticing in its rich vibrant colors. I want to bring home one of everything just to look at it! What’s more local farmers markets are opening in many locations offering more choices for buying fresh local produce.
People are getting out to shop for vegetables, to look for flowers and herbs. Tomorrow there will be an herb festival and sale at Pomeroy Farms and it looks like a great weekend to drive out to Yacolt, Washington and enjoy this celebration of fresh ingredients and local products. There will be thousands of herb plants for sale in many hard to find varieties and there will be lots of other products and entertainment offered too.
With the soaring temperature and all of this beautiful fresh produce for sale I can’t help but think of gazpacho. Gazpacho makes use of so many wonderful vegetables and brings them together in a delicious cold soup that can be made ahead and saved in the refrigerator until dinner time. This one comes from my new cookbook, "Spain and the World Table." It makes use of a rich and colorful variety of vegetables, eggplant, peppers, onion and tomatoes, and adds a slight kick with Tabasco sauce. It is very refreshing on a warm day.
And don’t skip the garnish on this one. In fact next time I think I will make a double batch. These spicy roasted garbanzo beans would be as good just to snack on before a meal as they are added as an interesting garnish to the gazpacho.
12 ounces Spanish onions (or yellow onions), peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 pound green peppers
1 pound red peppers
1 pound eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 pounds tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup roasted garlic
8 ounces seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Soup: Brush the onions, peppers. eggplant, and tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Grill or roast until the vegetables are softened and browned and look easy to peel. Times will vary by vegetable from about four minutes for tomatoes up to about fifteen minutes for the peppers.
Put the grilled vegetables, garlic and cucumber in a food processor or blender in batches. Fill the food processor or blender to a reasonable level and blend until smooth. Then pour contents into a large bowl and repeat with the remaining vegetables until all have been blended. Stir the batches together in the large bowl until well blended.
Add the cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato juice and Tabasco sauce. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Garnish: Place drained chickpeas on an lightly greased backing sheet and roast at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until the beans are golden brown. Meanwhile mix olive oil, cayenne pepper, saffron, hot paprika, dried thyme and salt, blending well.
As soon as the chickpeas are removed from the oven, toss them with the spice mix.
Garnish each bowl of Gazpacho with 2 tablespoons of the roasted and spiced chickpeas. Spread any remaining chickpeas out to cool. Store in the refrigerator.