Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Star Makeover: Roasted Gazpacho with Cucumber Sorbet

It has been seriously hot in New England. Seriously perfect whether for air conditioning and chilled soup. Seriously. This month's Five Star Makeover Challenge coincidentally is chilled soup! Believe it or not there are several classic chilled soups that come to mind immediately (gazpacho, borscht, and vichyssoise) but there are also many others. Each of these soups lend themselves well to adaptation. 

After trying to narrow down what I wanted to create this month, the idea of a roasted gazpacho won me over. Roasting completely transforms the vegetables that would normally be pureed raw into a gazpacho. They not only soften and become sweeter and milder in flavor, but also are enriched with a slightly charred flavor than adds another layer to this cool creation. I personally love a generous amount of vinegar in my gazpacho (I think without this acidity level it just isn't quite a gazpacho), but you can scale back if you feel like it. 

To compliment the gazpacho (and continue to cool down your palate), I added a scoop of icy and refreshing cucumber sorbet to each bowl of gazpacho. It screams cucumber flavor and with its vibrant green color (I left the skins on) is a really nice contrast to the vivid red gazpacho. Its delicate sweetness slightly offsets the acidity of the gazpacho, creating a wonderful balance. 

And to make it a complete meal, I made a simple grilled goat cheese sandwich to round it out. No recipe for that though. It's pretty self explanatory, but a great finishing touch and also a nice temperature contrast to the cold soup. Thanks so much as usual to Natasha of Five Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks for hosting this event! Please check out the other posts for more delicious chilled soups :)

Roasted Gazpacho with Cucumber Sorbet
Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 English cucumber (1 lb), skin-on, halved, seeded, and diced
1 T. vodka

2 lbs tomatoes, stemmed and halved
1 1/2 lbs red bell peppers (about 3), seeded and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 red onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 1/2 cups tomato or vegetable juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

To make the sorbet, heat the water and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Set the simple syrup aside to cool.

Add the diced cucumber to the jar of a blender along with the cooled simple syrup and the vodka. Puree until smooth. Chill the cucumber puree in the refrigerator until cold.

Freeze the cucumber puree in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Place the sorbet in a freezer-proof container and allow it to finish freezing in the freezer until firm. This will make about 3 cups sorbet.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the halved tomatoes cut-side up on one side of a large baking sheet and arrange the diced peppers and onions on the other side. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables to evenly coat them with the oil and seasoning. Roast for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven, add the whole garlic cloves, and use a spatula to mix the veggies so they cook and char evenly. Roast for another 25 to 35 minutes (a total of 50 to 60 minutes) or until the vegetables are soft and slightly charred. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Add the vegetables to the jar of a blender (if your blender is very small you may need to do a couple batches). Add 1 cup of the tomato juice and blend together with the roasted vegetables. You will want some texture and not a completely smooth puree. Pour the mixture into a large 2 quart container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the remaining tomato juice and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool the gazpacho completely in the refrigerator (preferably overnight).

Remove the sorbet from the freezer a few minutes before you plan to serve it, to allow it to soften enough to scoop. Serve the gazpacho cold with a scoop of cucumber sorbet in the center. Any leftover sorbet can be enjoyed on its own for a light and refreshing treat.


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