Gazpacho is a culinary trifecta, the rare dish that is delicious, healthful, and popular with everyone, from everyday folks to trend-conscious foodies. Served well chilled and generously garnished with chopped vegetables, this good-looking refresher, something between a soup and a liquid salad, is the perfect temptation for appetites wilted by summer heat.

Gazpacho is also a dish you won't mind making during the summer, since no cooking is needed and preparing it takes minimal kitchen time. I do recommend making your own roasted red peppers to benefit from the smoky and fresh flavor of homemade. But if you buy them from a deli counter or use the kind from a jar, chopping and blending are all this soup requires.

While using fresh tomatoes is traditional, they require peeling and seeding. Also, buying the very best, sun-ripened local tomatoes can be surprisingly expensive. Instead, my speedy version calls for tomato juice. This may seem like heresy, but try it then judge!

Bread and olive oil are gazpacho's other key ingredients. To avoid making stale bread, I take the shortcut of using dry breadcrumbs. Use a good quality of extra-virgin oil so just a couple of teaspoons are needed for plenty of aromatic flavor while keeping down the calories.

The one place where I do take time during preparation is in finely cutting the vegetable mix-ins into neat cubes because this looks so attractive. I also serve the chilled gazpacho in glass bowls.

Red Pepper Gazpacho

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Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red bell pepper (or use jarred, roasted pepper)
  • 2 cups low-sodium tomato juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup seeded and diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup finely diced zucchini
  • Tabasco sauce, optional

Directions

  1. Roast pepper over an open flame, turning it with tongs until skin is charred all over, about 10 minutes. Or, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Halve and seed pepper and place halves, cut-side down, on baking sheet. Coat skin with cooking spray and bake until pepper is soft, 30 minutes. Place roasted pepper, charred or baked, in a bowl, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Using your fingers, remove skin. Coarsely chop pepper, and set aside.
  2. Place roasted pepper, tomato juice, garlic and olive oil in blender and whiz until mixture is pureed. Add breadcrumbs and vinegar, and whiz to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into covered container and chill well, 6 hours to overnight.
  3. Check seasoning and adjust, if necessary. Divide gazpacho among 4 soup bowls. Add 1 tablespoon each of chopped cucumber, pepper, onion, and zucchini. Serve with Tabasco sauce if desired.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
90 calories
4 g total fat
Less than 1 g saturated fat
12 g carbohydrate
2 g protein
2 g dietary fiber
100 mg sodium