Slow Food for Thought...

“Defending the earth means safeguarding biodiversity, the landscape and farming. Those who haven’t seen the importance of farming haven’t understood anything!”
Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food

Monday, June 8, 2009

Slow Seasonal Recipe: Strawberry Gazpacho Sant Pau with Toasted Almonds

From Nuts by Linda & Fred Griffith, published by St. Martin’s Press, 2003, (nominated for Best Single Subject Award for 2003 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals)

Our guests love it! Benefit-goers love it. While strawberry gazpacho may sound crazy, it’s amazing just how well garlic, onion and cucumber marry with lusty berries. As in many dishes in Catalonia, toasted almonds are used not only to add depth of flavor, but to thicken as well. We have to thank Carme and Toni Ruscalleda whose celebrated beach-front restaurant in Sant Pol de Mar, Spain, brings visitors from everywhere. Hailed as one of Spain’s top chefs, the diminutive Carme has a way with flavor combinations that most of us only hope of developing. She is devoted to the favored ingredients of traditional Catalan cuisine, but her playfulness is apparent when she uses them in unexpected ways. Our lusty gazpacho, for example, celebrates the fact that one of the top agricultural products of the region around Sant Pau are large, luscious strawberries.

Strawberry Gazpacho Sant Pau with Toasted Almonds

Serves 6 to 8

1 quart ripe strawberries, hulled
½ English cucumber, peeled and quartered
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
¼ very large sweet onion, skin removed
½ cup toasted slivered almonds, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons fruit vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
½ t teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce, more to taste
1 cup apple juice or cider
⅔ cup finely diced cucumber
High quality almond oil, or extra virgin olive oil, for garnish.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine berries, cucumber, garlic, celery, onion, nuts and vinegar. Pulse until ingredients are all finely chopped, then run motor until mixture is pureed. Scrape sides, add salt, pepper and Tabasco. Pulse again. Add apple juice and pulse one more time.

Refrigerate soup for at least 2 hours and up to 6. Thin soup, if needed, with some water. Divide diced cucumber among the soup plates, then ladle soup over them. Drizzle some oil over the soup and sprinkle with a few toasted almonds.

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