Monday, September 6, 2010

Meatless Monday: Tomato Gazpacho with Manchengo Cheese

This past week has been so obnoxiously hot that cooking was just not an option.  I was reminded of the Melon Cucumber soup I made last summer and decided that a more classic take in the form of a Gazpacho would be perfect and super simple.  It also felt like the perfect end of summer soup, chock full of all of the fresh vegetables available right now.  And perfect for my second Meatless Monday recipe. 

Taking inspiration from the saltiness of the Serrano crisps in the melon soup, but wanting to keep it meatless, I decided to add curls of Manchego cheese.  The hard salty cheese seemed like the perfect foil to the spicy freshness of the soup.  The extra virgin olive oil added just the right bit of richness to complete the dish.

 Tomato Gazpacho with Manchengo Cheese

2 lbs field tomatoes - seeded
1-2 jalapenos - seeded (I used 2 because the ones from my garden were a bit small)
1 stalk celery
1/2 English cucumber - seeded
3 large green onions (white and pale green parts)
1 red bell pepper - seeded
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper (about 10 turns on the pepper mill)
1 lime - zested and juiced
Manchengo cheese curls

1.  Wash and roughly chop the first 7 ingredients.
2.  Pulse 1/2 of the vegetables in the food processor until finely chopped and of a thick soup consistency.  Stream in 1/2 of the olive oil.  Pour into a large bowl and repeat with rest of vegetables and oil.
3.  Stir in lime juice & zest and salt and pepper.
4.  Serve in a chilled bowl with curls of Manchengo, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and garlic toasts.

To make garlic toasts, brush both sides of slices of thick cut crusty bread with olive oil.   Grill for a few minutes on each side until grill marks appear.  Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on one side of each toast.   They are perfect eaten on their own or dunked in the soup.  When dunked in the soup they remind me of the a Spanish Tapas called tomato bread that is perfect on a hot day with an ice cold glass of white rioja.

I loved how fresh this soup tasted and how in each bite I could taste all of the vegetables.  It was cooling and just filling enough for a muggy summer day.   Even though today is the unofficial last day of summer.  This soup will serve you well in the Indian Summer days we are sure to have in September.  And it's a wonderfully easy weeknight meal as you back into the swing of fall schedules.  


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