Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Gazpacho

Wow!  This week’s circular from Caputo’s, a local Italian supermarket, made me sit up straighter with visions of red bell pepper recipes dancing through my head.  At 89 cents a pound, they were practically giving the peppers away.  As we say in Boston, what a bah-gain!  (Although my husband’s job has taken the girl out of Boston; the Boston hasn’t been taken out of the girl.)

I love Caputo’s and not just because my maiden name ends in an “o.”  The first time I walked into the store after we moved to Chicago, what did I see but a barrel of olives.  It was love at first sight, or perhaps bite; and I’ve enjoyed shopping there ever since.

It is merely the beginning of June, but we’ve had three consecutive days of 90-plus-degree weather in Chicago.  So, I immediately knew what I would do with all those beautiful red peppers—make the roasted tomato and red pepper gazpacho that we all enjoy several times each summer.  Once the days get hot, I actually scour the food circulars for sales on red peppers so that I can make the gazpacho.

Since I had never particularly cared for gazpacho in years past, I had ignored this recipe when it appeared in the July 2004 issue of Bon Appétit.  Had it not been for a co-worker making it and bringing in a sample, I would have missed out on a really terrific recipe that has become part of my regular summer repertoire.  Jill, my work buddy, and I sampled it; and together we were making “nom, nom” noises.  A month later, Jill asked me to help her make a sit-down dinner for what turned out to be 15 people, and I made this gazpacho as one of the several courses we offered.  The diners clapped after four of the courses, and this gazpacho was one of them!

The gazpacho is sensuously rich and feels like cool velvet going down.  At work, we’d say it has some serious umami going on!  If I were you, I’d be looking for a red bell pepper sale in your supermarket circulars right about now.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Gazpacho

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Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. plum tomatoes, halved
  • 5 large red bell peppers, divided
  • 4 medium-sized red onions, divided
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • 2 tbl. Sherry wine vinegar – be sure to use a good quality!
  • 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce, optional
  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 450o F.  Place tomatoes on large rimmed baking sheet.  Cut 4 peppers into 1″ pieces; place on another rimmed baking sheet.  Cut 3 onions into 1″ pieces, add to peppers.  Drizzle 1/2 cup oil over vegetables, tossing to coat.  Sprinkle with salt.

Roast vegetables until soft and slightly charred, about 45 to 50 minutes, switching positions of pans after 25 minutes.

I prefer to remove the tomato skins after roasting.  I then purée half of vegetables with pan juices in processor until smooth.  Add 1 cup water; process until very smooth.  Transfer mixture to large bowl.  Repeat with remaining vegetables and 1 cup water.  Cover gazpacho; chill overnight.

Mix remaining 1 cup water, vinegar, and hot pepper sauce into gazpacho.  Season to taste with salt.   (I add 1/2 tsp.)

Finely dice remaining bell pepper and onion; mix with cucumber.  Pour gazpacho into bowls; top with diced vegetables and a drizzle of oil.

Source: Slightly adapted Bon Appétit recipe

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