Hot weather fare: Spanish salad and gazpacho

  • Spanish salad and gazpacho. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/NINA M. SCOTT

For the Recorder
Published: 8/3/2020 11:35:08 AM

It’s so hot I’m cross-eyed. We have no air conditioning in our house because in normal times — whatever those are — we summer on the coast of Maine where the sea breeze is the best free AC imaginable.

So, what to fix for lunch or dinner? If we’re talking hot, try central and southern Spain in the summertime. As a former professor of Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have been to Spain numerous times with my husband, Jim, and since I am an inveterate foodie, I think of the meals I was served there during the summer.

One of our favorites is gazpacho, a soup akin to a liquid salad and extremely refreshing. You can keep a jug of it in the refrigerator and have a cup or a mug whenever the mood strikes you. At present I am using canned tomatoes, but when the summer crop comes in, use fresh (peeled) ones instead. Precise quantities are not all that important.

Gazpacho

2 or 3 slices crusty baguette torn into bits and soaked in about 1 cup water

28 ounce can of whole tomatoes in their juice

1 green pepper, seeded and chunked

1 salad or 2 Persian cucumbers, chunked

1 small onion, peeled and chunked

2 garlic cloves, peeled

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Put all ingredients into a blender (including the water with which you soaked the bread). Taste for seasoning, perhaps adding a bit of red pepper flakes and a tiny bit of sugar. Put liquid into a large jug and add about 6 ice cubes. Refrigerate well before serving.

In Spain, this soup is often accompanied by small dishes with more chopped green pepper, onion, cucumber and even croutons.

Gets better every day.

Spanish salad (Ensalada mixta)

1 5 ounce can albacore tuna in oil

Red wine vinegar or lemon juice; Dijon mustard

Chopped tomatoes

1 small onion, diced, or sliced scallions

Green or red pepper, seeded and chopped

Sliced Persian cucumber

Best quality olives, any kind you want

Lettuce

Salt and pepper

Drain tuna oil into a large bowl; add lemon juice or vinegar. Use more olive oil if you want, and some Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. All very flexible. Chunk the tuna and toss with the vegetables. You can add other ingredients if you wish: wedges of hard-boiled egg, marinated artichoke hearts, carrots, cold diced potatoes, etc. I usually toss all the vegetables with the dressing first, tasting for seasoning, then add the chunked tuna. Let sit a while for flavors to develop, then add lettuce. Serve with crusty bread.

I will not say how many servings this makes, as it depends on your appetite. If you want to save some, eat the lettuce and just refrigerate the rest of the salad.




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