Picnic time: Spanish style

August 2, 2013


Heeeeyy Boo-boo! Whadya think they got in that pic-a-nic basket?

I’m guessing Yogi never expected to get a basket full of Spanish goodies such as gazpacho, zucchini cake, lima bean salad, and piquillo peppers, but had he stumbled upon our party, that’s certainly what he would have found. Along with a pitcher or two of sangria!

A couple of weekends ago we decided to head out to a new park for a picnic and some light hiking. I was a little perplexed as to what to make, because at the time my husband and I were doing a gluten-free diet, and a friend of ours that was going is also gluten-free. So gone was the usual pressed sandwich meal, but I needed something that would not go off in the sun (no mayo or raw anything) but also wouldn’t be too heavy since it promised to be a warm day, and I knew the alcohol we would consume would already drain our energy a bit. Then it hit me – a Spanish-themed meal. Sangria is the perfect summer time drink, and with foods like gazpacho and stuffed peppers, we would be filled up and satisfied, but definitely not stuffed. And all the items could be served either room temperature or cold. And almost everything was vegetarian. While no one in the group was vegetarian, it’s always good to have some go to recipes that are meat-free for friends that don’t eat meat.

So first up – the gazpacho. I have to say, I’ve made many gazpachos in my day, and I never like them. Everyone else loves them, but tomato soup has never been my thing. So I decided to make this for everyone else, and I figured I would have a shot of it. Once I tasted it, however, I decided I may have finally found my perfect gazpacho recipe. Sweet tomatoes, just a hint of cucumber, and a good dose of roasted red pepper made this just perfect in my book.

Serves 6

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
3 piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers
1/2 cucumber, seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more, to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or more, to taste

Add all items to a food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning as needed. Chill for at least 1 hour and serve cold.

Note: For this recipe, I used part San Marzano canned tomatoes and part fresh, heirloom tomatoes, as I had an open can that I needed to use. The flavors came out phenomenal. I would suggest only making this with tomatoes in season or sweet canned tomatoes such as the San Marzano.

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