Saturday, 24 July 2010

Summer Salmorejo

The heat and humidity capture the essence of what July means. It is the downside to ripe red tomatoes, sweet grapes, and quivering lychees. Cool and refreshing, summer has pushed me into a raw food eating corner.

I was first introduced to Salmorejo on the eve of the Eurovision contest finale last year. We had a gathered for a viewing and each came bearing a national symbol, for an international buffet. The UK was cucumber sandwiches, Japan- sushi, the US - chocolate chip cookies, boiled peanuts and an OTT whipped cream layer cake. Elisa brought the Salmorejo; a cold tomato soup, it is related to Gaspacho, but is thicker, and made using only tomatoes and commonly served with chopped up hard-boiled egg and jamon Serrano sprinkled on top.

I am preparing the soup on a hot day, standing in the kitchen and sweating as my thoughts drift to quantum physics and I cannot help but ponder where is my life heading, what the future holds and is it all coming together or falling apart. This is all about the tomatoes. No mediators, no obstructions or distractions of any kind. Only fragrant ripe sweet tomatoes with a hint of garlic and the juiciness of cold pressed olive oil.

The original recipe did not ask for it but I peeled the tomatoes before I added them, which resulted in a bonus by-product; crisp tomato skins.

Update: just cooked a wad of oven dried, then lightly fried okra in the Salmorejo and served it on a bowl of fluffy white rice. A drizzle of whole sesame tahini on top and every day can transform to a holy day.


This recipe was adapted from Casa Moro, the second cookbook.

(Serves 4)

2 garlic cloves

1 kg sweet ripe tomatoes, peeled (instructions below) and halved

100g white bread, crust removed, roughly crumbled

10 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs good quality sweet red wine or balsamic vinegar

Smoked paprika, hot or sweet, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground whit pepper, to taste

To serve:

2 eggs

finely chopped Jamon Serrano (optional)

To peel the tomatoes:

Using a sharp knife, lightly score the base of the tomatoes with a small "X" shaped cut.

Plunge the tomatoes in a pan of boiled water for no longer the 10-15 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the water and carefully peel away the skins with your fingers. Keep the skins in a small bowl and set aside for the crisps (recipe below).

Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a god pinch of salt until you have a smooth paste.

Using an emulsifier of a food processor puree the tomato halves and bread until completely smooth.

With the machine still running add the garlic and slowly pour in the olive oil. When the oil has combined, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste.

The consistency of the soup should be like that of an apple puree. Add some water if necessary.

Place the bowl in the fridge for 2 hours to chill.

To make the hard boiled eggs place them in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by about 1cm. Bring the water up to simmering point, and put the timer on for 7 minutes.

Cool the eggs rapidly under cold running water; let the cold tap run over them for about 1 minute, then leave them in cold water till they're cool enough to handle.

Set aside.

Before serving peel the eggs and chop finely.

Just before serving check the seasoning once more, then ladle the soup into 4 bowls and sprinkle with chopped egg on top.

You can also use this soup as a sauce for grilled aubergines or as a pizza base.


Piquant tomato skin crisps

These are great as a light snack or sprinkled above salads or rice.

Left over tomatoes skins

Extra virgin olive oil

Smoked paprika, hot or sweet, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground whit pepper, to taste

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 100°C.

Spread the tomato skin on the parchment, arranged in a single layer.

Drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle the sea salt, ground pepper and smoked paprika.

Bake for 1 - 1½ hours and allow to cool completely.

The crisps will keep in an airtight container for several days.

Note: You can also play around with the seasoning. Try using balsamic vinegar or soy sauce.

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