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Kickin' Your Picnic Up a Notch - White Gazpacho

Ah now we’re talking! Picnic weather. The clouds have finally cleared from the Pacfic Nothwest sky and brilliant blue spans western hills to mountaintops. The weather is finally gorgeous, so amazingly gorgeous it must be said it was worth waiting for.

And people are out, everywhere, wearing their summer colors. When the sun shines in these parts no one fails to notice. No one gets passé or says, "No big deal!" Everyone, and I mean everyone, opens the doors and walks into the great outdoors. Some climb mountains, some drive to the beach, some run, some mow their lawn, some sit in a cedar chair and read a book, some chat with neighbors they had forgotten they had, some garden, but everyone participates. It cannot be said of those living in the Pacific Northwest that we take our natural asssets for granted. We see little enough of this gorgeous sunshine in a year and we know it. If it is out we are out there with it, case closed.

For me, I like to celebrate the sunshine with a picnic. A loaf of good bread, a bottle of wine or sparkling water, some great cheeses and olives are enough and make a wonderful repast. Sometimes though, I like a little adventure in my picnic food. I like to try new things.

Today I am trying a new soup, new to me anyway. White Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish recipe, It's origin possibly dating back to Moorish times, and is particularly from the area around Andulusia. It is made with stale pieces of rustic bread, garlic, olive oil and salt. Where it varies from Red Gazpacho is in the addition of ground almonds and white grapes to this base rather than tomatoes. The almonds, a traditional product of Spain, are rich and this soup is quite flavorful and best served cool and in small portions. Add it to the menu for your next picnic and enjoy a sunny taste of Spain.

White Gazpacho
(Ajo Blanco or Cold Almond and Garlic Soup)
from "Spain and the World Table"

2 cups day-old rustic bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
6 - 7 cups water, or as needed
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
2 cups blanched almonds
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided use
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
16 medium green grapes, halved and seeded, for garnish
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

In a medium bowl, soak day-old bread in 1 1/2 cups of water for 10 minutes. (If you use fresh bread this step is unnecessary.)

Place the garlic and almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Process for 1 minute or until finely ground, scraping down the sides as needed to get an even texture. Add the bread and any soaking water, 2 teaspoons of salt (or less according to your taste), vinegar and oil. Blend until a smooth paste forms, approximately 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and blend for approximately 2 minutes longer.

Transfer the mixture to a nonreactive bowl and stir in approximately 3 to 4 cups of the remaining water. cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Just before serving stir the soup well, reaching into to mix in any ingredients that have settled. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve in small bowls or glasses garnished with grapes and the toasted almond slices.



grace said...

grapes!! how unexpected! this is a wonderfully unique recipe, lisa--frankly, i'd enjoy just gazing at it lovingly, but a taste or two wouldn't hurt. :)

Cathy said...

What a nice addition to summer menus! The sherry vinegar would add lovely flavor to this soup. I've made something similar and garnished it with chopped tomato and cucumber. The grapes and almonds are much more fun.

Nic said...

Delicious summery recipe, perfect for a picnic!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Love this idea!!!!

Zupan's Markets said...

We LOVE gazpacho! Last summer we did a whole spread on it in Indulge Magazine. See it here!

Melpy said...

I adore ajo blanco, thanks for showing some in process shots!

Lisa said...

Melpy - I had hoped for better pictures. The consistency is very interesting, rich and creamy, and I hoped to show that. Thanks for stopping by!