Cooking becomes problematic for me when the weather climbs above 85 degrees. Although I still want a delightful meal at the end of the day, I really don’t want to turn on my stove. So, what do you do when the Bay Area is going through yet another scorching week? Make gazpacho!
Until recently (uh… this week, actually) I'd never made gazpacho. I was inspired to concoct this cool Spanish soup, however, after tasting some at Cesar's Piedmont Avenue restaurant a couple of weeks ago. Unlike most red tomato gazpachos, the one at Cesar's that evening was a lovely lemony green and was made with cucumbers. It also had a bright summer flavor and was simple yet elegant.
Although I love most soups, I usually don’t go in for the cold ones. Give me a steaming hot vegetable, lentil, chicken, bean or broth soup and I’m quite happy. Cold soups, particularly the fruity variety, just don’t do it for me as they seem like the remnants of a smoothie left out on the counter. Cesar’s cucumber gazpacho, however, was in a class all its own. Smooth and cucumbery, with hints of lemon and vinegar, it was both refreshing and satisfying. My friend Ann and I liked it so much we wiped the plate clean with our bread.
The manager at Cesar's, Kathleen Ventura, was nice enough to give me a copy of the recipe, created by Chef Maggie Pond, when I asked for one. She also said she didn’t mind if I shared it here (thank you, Kathleen). The proportions are on the large side (as with any restaurant recipe), so I cut it down for home use.