Recipes excerpted from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2019. I’ve never understood why gazpacho isn’t on more menus in southern California restaurants. It is, in essence, a salad smoothie, light and refreshing and well-suited to the climate. I’ve substituted white bread, which is traditionally used to create the velvety body of the soup, with cashews. They do the same job and seem more in keeping with the California spirit. Go easy with the garlic: grate in a little at a time, tasting as you go, or leave it out entirely and it’s still wonderful. This recipe makes about 500 ml (18 fl oz/2 ¼ cups), which is about right for 2 people, though you can easily double or triple the ingredients to serve more.
Prep time: 15 minutes
15 whole unsalted cashews (25 g/ ¾ oz)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon golden caster (superfine) sugar
2–3 medium tomatoes (250 g/9 oz), roughly chopped
¼ cucumber (100 g/3 ½ oz), roughly chopped
½ red (bell) pepper (50 g/2 oz), seeded and roughly chopped
1 spring onion (scallion), roughly chopped
¼ garlic clove, finely grated (optional)
75 ml (2 ½ fl oz/5 tablespoons) cold water
freshly ground black pepper
edible flowers, to garnish
Soak the cashews in a bowl of cold water while you prepare all the other ingredients.
Put the oil, vinegar, salt and sugar in the jug of a high-speed blender. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and spring onion, along with a small grating of garlic.
Drain the cashews and tip them in, then add the cold water and blend.
Stop and scrape down the sides, if needed, and blend again. Check the seasoning and add more salt, sugar, garlic or vinegar to balance; a grind of black pepper is nice too. You may also need to add a splash more water to achieve the desired consistency. Blend again until really smooth.
Gazpacho is best served well chilled, so pop it in the refrigerator for an hour before serving in bowls or glasses, garnished with edible flowers and a drizzle of oil. Or serve immediately with a cube of ice in each bowl.