Homemade gazpacho and homemade bread


The story behind this was pretty cool — the other day, when I came into the Avanti Cafe to pick up my latest basket of farm goods, I was very kindly given a container of tomato pureé ‘to show your creativity with,’ I was told! No looking of a gift horse in the mouth there, and after some thought I decided, given the weather, that a cold soup was the way to go.

There are a slew of gazpacho recipes out there but this one seemed of interest, and proved very enjoyable — the pureé appeared to be of roasted tomatoes, to add some bite to it, while I had just about all the other ingredients to hand to start with.

In the meantime I just made myself a nice homemade herb bread as well, with parsley, rosemary, onions, garlic and parmesan. The combination was a treat and I still have some left over!

Risotto Barolo with roasted vegetables

Whew. I’m surprised I went ahead and did this — an exhausting (and somehow utterly boring) day left me feeling like a wreck. But I had already pulled together the ingredients and thought ‘heck with it’ — and I’m glad I did. Very, very delicious, and a great way to start the weekend.

Vegetables:

    8 baby carrots, trimmed
    8 baby turnips, trimmed
    8 baby beets, trimmed
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Risotto:

    6 to 7 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
    2 shallots, chopped
    2 cups Arborio rice
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
    1 1/2 cups Barolo
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter or truffle butter
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Black truffle shavings or truffle oil for garnish, optional

For the Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the carrots, turnips, beets, thyme sprigs and garlic in a roasting pan with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Peel the beets. Keep the vegetables in the turned-off oven until the risotto is ready.

For the Risotto: Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth simmers gently.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Add shallots and cook stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir until it is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the salt. Add 1 cup of the Barolo and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Ladle in about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir constantly, until the rice again absorbs the liquid, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue ladling in about 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring between additions and letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding more.

When rice is al dente, after 20 or so minutes of cooking time, stop adding broth. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup wine until just absorbed, then stir in the grated Parmesan and the butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Let the risotto rest off the heat for a minute or so before serving. Divide among warm shallow bowls and top with the roasted vegetables. Shave black truffles over the top, or drizzle with a bit of truffle oil, if using.

Roasted gazpacho, tomato and cucumber salad, a table red and some bread

Now that’s a great Friday night dinner to my mind!

The gazpacho recipe was taken from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, so as always go to that, but here’s a link to an excellent looking version that uses cucumber, which I should have included with mine, as I have plenty and to spare! But it would not have gone well with roasting, I think.

If you want to go the route I took, all one has to do is simply spend some time roasting your vegetables of choice — tomatoes and peppers obviously being key — in olive oil, then mixing it with water, seasonings and dry bread, then letting it soak overnight before blending, straining and serving. As it happened, after blending and straining I let it sit for another day’s worth and so that meant tonight I could just simply open up the containers, add the Parmesan cheese and croutons and go nuts.

Two quick food stories of interest

Full work day and I’m off to the garden tonight — we’re well under way there for our forthcoming move to a new location — but these two stories caught my idea today:

  • It’s one thing to get yourself a slew of fresh vegetables, it’s another to know what to do with them. This NY Times story is merely the overview that it is, but still provides a couple of useful pointers and reminders — I’m not here to get into a raw food vs. cooked food debate, mind you, so don’t take this as me getting involved much on that front! An interesting bit:

    What accompanies the vegetables can also be important. Studies at Ohio State measured blood levels of subjects who ate servings of salsa and salads. When the salsa or salad was served with fat-rich avocados or full-fat salad dressing, the diners absorbed as much as 4 times more lycopene, 7 times more lutein and 18 times the beta carotene than those who had their vegetables plain or with low-fat dressing.

    Fat can also improve the taste of vegetables, meaning that people will eat more of them. This month, The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported on 1,500 teenagers interviewed in high school and about four years later on their eating habits. In the teenage years, many factors influenced the intake of fruits and vegetables. By the time the study subjects were 20, the sole factor that influenced fruit and vegetable consumption was taste. Young adults were not eating vegetables simply because they didn’t like the taste.

    “Putting on things that make it taste better — spices, a little salt — can enhance your eating experience and make the food taste better, so you’re more likely to eat vegetables more often,” Dr. Clinton said.

  • Meanwhile, who knew that kiwi fruit, aka the renamed Chinese gooseberry, would have taken root and thrived in…Italy?:

    Italian kiwi took root here in Latina, and Renato Campoli was its pioneer. Thirty years ago, as a young man, Campoli was one of the first Italians to plant the fruit, almost on a lark.

    “I was looking for something new to do in agriculture,” said Campoli, suntanned and with thick white hair.

    The tomatoes, beets and cows raised on his little family farm didn’t yield much of a living.

    A friend in Sweden had come across a mysterious fruit called a kiwi, and he challenged Campoli: Plant that!

    Mangia, as they say.