Photography by Tracey Creed
Recipe by Tracey Creed and Amandine Paniagua
Words by Amandine Paniagua
Recipe best prepared Summer
Published March 15 2023
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Place capsicums on a baking tray and bake until skins are blistered, approximately 10-15 minutes. Once done, transfer to an air-tight container and set aside for 10 minutes. Remove the skins with your fingers. It does not have to be perfect, remove what you can.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Make an ‘x’ on the base of your tomatoes and place in the boiling water briefly, no more than 1 minute. Transfer tomatoes to ice-cold water, remove and peel back the skins with your fingers.
Transfer the tomatoes, capsicums, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil and vinegar to a blender, blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bread and blend again. Do this in parts until the desired consistency is achieved, you may want to use more or less bread than we did. Rectify garlic seasoning if necessary.
Store the gazpacho in the fridge for at least 3 hours, ideally to consume it ice cold. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge; this gazpacho keeps for up to 3 days.
What better way to combine the richness of tomato, cucumber and capsicum than into a traditional gazpacho? As we enter their harvesting season here in Aotearoa, we eat as much as possible because once this bounty is gone, we will not have these fresh until the next harvest. Gazpacho is this sort of meal engraved in my childhood memories. Every year, with my parents and brother, we used to go road-tripping in Andalucia, Spain. It was close by car; the weather was warm, and travelling there was affordable. This flavourful, cold bright soup was part of every day's menu. I now love gazpacho forever.
The best moment to savour traditional gazpacho is when the temperature is high, to sip straight out of the fridge, cold. Or as a morning boost or satiate cravings. Or as an entry! Gazpacho is a versatile staple meal from Spain, and it is (surprisingly) easy to find tasteful store-made versions there. When visiting my friends last year in Madrid, being time-poor between all the catchup and visits, we indulged ourselves with the supermarket-bought Alvale or the organic health food store gazpachos, it is just tasty and, thanks to the bread, a substantial meal.
Still, I will convey that traditional homemade gazpacho will always be my favourite, hence this recipe. I love that gazpacho is a mixture between a drink and a salad. It is easy to make and mistake-free; all you need to make sure of is to pick up flavourful ingredients. Cook what needs to be done in advance, drop in the blender with tons of garlic, mix and ya esta! You have an unpretentious, delicious, colourful soup. As I said, best consumed chilled. I also like to drop some toasted croutons to garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a dish of olives on the side. Get them garlicky too.
For too long, as a westernised society, we've been living without acknowledging our foods' where, how, and their impact. And while we are here to joyfully learn how to prepare a traditional Spanish gazpacho, it is essential to re-attach some context to our food and, at the very least, improve our general culture in parallel to practising in the kitchen.
Tomato is part of the Solanaceae family, the same as the potato, eggplant and capsicum, the latest being an ingredient of this gazpacho recipe. An endemic plant from Central America, specifically Peru and Mexico, where it was first grown as food, the tomato's name originates from the Aztec word "tomatl", which converted into "tomate" after the Spanish invaders discovered the fruits in the 16th century. It was then brought back to Europe, spreading around the Mediterranean basin in the 17th century. At the beginning of the 1900s, following the immigration wave from Europe, the fruit crossed the Atlantic ocean again, growing popular in North America—oh, hello, ketchup! Later on, tomatoes became available worldwide through the globalisation of agriculture, being a plant relatively easy to grow, producing voluminous wields for significant culinary versatility. China is the world's largest tomato producer.
Unfortunately, its popularity worldwide pushed for industrial off-ground cultivation, favouring easy-to-transport, firm flesh varieties, resisting diseases but compromising with flavour, resulting in fruits with no taste. The moral of this story is if you are consuming tomatoes, aim to consume organic produce grown in your country in a hot environment; its natural season is likely to be Summer. Tomatoes are simple to grow in your garden or sunny balcony—just an idea.
This traditional gazpacho contains tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, garlic and olive oil, and so is packed with vitamins—A, B, E and C in addition to vitamins K, B6 and folate acid, boosting immunity and improving overall body metabolism. On top of vitamins, gazpacho is rich in minerals and oligo-elements such as potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluor, nickel and iodine, all necessary to regenerate body tissues, synthesise nutrients and produce antibodies. They also help reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, decreasing heart disease risks. Gazpacho also contains the same proportion of carbohydrates and electrolytes found in human blood, maintaining a healthy acid-base balance in body cells, similar to an isotonic drink. Finally, given its base ingredients contain high water levels, this colourful meal will keep you hydrated. Overall, traditional gazpacho is a nutritious meal to drink without moderation. Enjoy it!