keeping my cool June 1, 2009
In the midst of all of the great work I've been able to do lately, there have been some great opportunities to travel. One such trip was a weekend getaway to Athens,Georgia for a foodie adventure. At one stop during the weekend, we hit an incredible restaurant called The National. This place was remarkable – great talent, beautiful space and mind-blowing food.
As a true testament to The National's power, I consumed two things that I absolutely cannot stand. The first being carrot juice in a dazzling Carrot Ginger Bloody Mary
. The second was a delicate but boldly flavored Cucumber Gazpacho topped with a piquillo pepper and shrimp relish. I'm very persnickety about what I eat containing cucumbers but I would have licked the bowl if I could have gotten my face deep enough into it. Needless to say, I came back home and replicated it almost immediately.
My version has a bit more tang (from the citrus juice and the vinegar) and a tiny bit more heat via the cayenne. This is one of those recipes that is super easy to put together, put it in a covered container, and forget about worrying over it. In a couple of hours in the fridge, the flavors are bright. You can put any twists on it that you want – some herbs whizzed in the soup itself, spiked with a bit of tequila or vodka, and garnished any way you see fit. I love the piquillo pepper with the cucumber and added some radish sprouts for a bit of texture.
Cucumber Gazpacho with Piquillo Pepper and Radish Sprouts – makes one quart of soup
- 4 medium cucumbers – completely peeled, deserted and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- juice of one medium lemon
- juice of one medium lime
- 1/3 cup very fruity extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. white pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 roasted piquillo pepper – sliced into julienned strips or diced (optional)
- small bunch radish sprouts, sunflower sprouts or micro greens (optional)
– Place cucumbers, lemon and lime juice, and garlic into a blender and puree until smooth. Add extra virgin olive oil and water and blend until desired consistency. Add salt and spices to taste and blend one more time. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight to allow flavors to mingle. When serving, top with julienned piquillo pepper and chopped sprouts