Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gazpacho with Avocado and Roasted Garlic

Where do you get your cooking inspiration?

For me, cooking inspiration comes randomly.

I can spend hours pouring over cookbooks and magazines, watching cooking shows on television, or surfing the web and come away still not knowing what to make for dinner--then ZAP!--inspiration strikes me, and I'm on a mission to make something tasty.

The other day, my friend Carolyn Sanwo--the Booklady from Heritage Source--updated her status on Facebook by saying she ate Gazpacho at Harris Ranch when traveling up Interstate 5.

Inspiration hit me fast and quick.

I had to make some Gazpacho!

Thanks, Carolyn, for the inspiration!

Perfect timing, too, with the weather heading toward triple digits and my dad delivering a bag of homegrown tomatoes.

I think the secret to good gazpacho lies in the tomatoes.

A really good, flavorful tomato makes everything taste good.


about 8 cups homegrown or other flavorful tomatoes
1 roasted red pepper
1 1/2 cups red onion, diced

2 small crisp cucumbers, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
1 head of roasted garlic, removed from husks and minced
1 roasted yellow pepper, diced
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce 

2 medium sized avocados, diced

Take the skin off the tomatoes by immersing them for a few seconds in boiling water. 

Before you put them in the boiling water, cutting an X on the bottom of the tomatoes may make it a bit easier to take the skins off, but simply by immersing the tomatoes in the hot water does the trick.

The X opens up pretty fast, and that means the skin can be peeled off easily.

I had 8 to 10 cups of whole peeled tomatoes.

Put half the skinned tomatoes in a blender or food processor, and seed the rest of the tomatoes right into the blender vessel.

Squeeze the seeds right out--they'll get pulverized in the blender, and you won't need to add tomato juice.

I had a roasted red bell pepper and added that.

You can use a raw one if you prefer, add it to the blender.

Add 1/2 cup diced red onion.

1/2 seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper.

My blender only has two speeds--high and higher.

Just kidding, it actually says Low and High, but on low, it seems high.

Blend on low for about 30 seconds.

The mixture will look pink, but it will turn red again after an hour or so when it settles.

Chop the rest of the tomatoes to give the gazpacho texture.

I like to go through the tomatoes horizontally,

Then vertically.

Reserve a little bit of each vegetable for garnish as you're chopping--that makes it look so pretty!

Add the chopped tomatoes to a large bowl with the blended tomatoes and vegetables.

I had a roasted yellow pepper, diced it and added it to the bowl.

I love roasted peppers and thought the yellow one would add some nice color.

The two small cucumbers, diced, made about 1 cup.

I added 1/2 cup diced red onion and 1 cup diced sweet onion.

I roasted some garlic on the barbecue by cutting the tops off, drizzling a bit of olive oil over the cut, wrapping the heads together in foil and cooking them until the cloves were soft, about 1/2 hour, turning occasionally.

Take the garlic out of the husks and mince.

You could put the roasted garlic in the blender if you don't want to bite into any chunks.

Or mash it with a fork.

Add it to the tomato mixture.

Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin,

1 1/2 teaspoons salt,

Juice of 1 lime and 1/2 lemon,

Drizzle about 2 tablespoons olive oil into the tomatoes, too.

And add some freshly cracked pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce.

I also added about 2 tablespoons minced roasted jalapeño I had in the freezer.

Add 1 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce--I used sriracha.

And the 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

Mix well.

Some fresh, blanched corn, cut off the cob, would be good in here too.

Peel and remove the seed from the avocados, dice, and add to the soup.

Taste and adjust seasoning.


Taste and adjust seasoning again before serving.

The flavors will meld and intensify while refrigerating.

If the gazpacho is too strong or too thick, add cold water or ice as needed.

Garnish with reserved bits of vegetables and cilantro leaf.

Or chiffonade some basil to put on top.




What do you do when you can't sleep at night?

If I'm troubled, and can't sleep at night, I might get up and cook a casserole or two.

That's my therapy.

If it's because my mind is busy thinking, but I'm happy, I might watch some music videos on YouTube, in bed on my iPod, until I get tired and fall asleep.

'Must be because I had such a good time attending my high school's All Class Reunion Picnic over the weekend that I was wanting to listen to some good oldies.

Pun intended.

Buffalo Springfield had a reunion of their own at The Bridge School Benefit last year.

I've always liked Richie Furay's voice, but I really like the joy he exudes while singing.

I actually like watching Richie Furay sing now, older, more than younger.

I've heard it called Geezer Rock.

I find myself smiling.

I wish I could have seen that concert in person, but YouTube, in the middle-of-the-night, is the next-best thing.

It makes we wonder if my daughter and her friends will feel the same way about the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and NKOTB when they get to be my age.

Hearing I Want It That Way makes me smile, too, because it instantly makes me think of my daughter and her friends in high school, and how they would all sing in my Astro Van while I drove them to gymnastics.

Music can do that.

The gem of my middle-of-the-night concert was this:

Dan Fogelberg Solo Acoustic Tour 1997

Back-in-the-day, I was a huge Dan Fogelberg fan, and this tour was my favorite part of his career. 

Whenever I hear this song, I think of sitting a couple of rows from the stage at The Grove in Anaheim with my friend H, seeing the house lights dim, hearing "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dan Fogelberg" and the anticipation felt when he walked on stage, picked up his 12-string guitar and played this song--and think, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to see that again.

I enjoyed it that much.

And there it is--on YouTube!


It can do that to you.

It makes me smile and warms my heart.

Once again, if you are on the fence about going to your high school reunion--I urge you to go.

Better yet--

Go--and say to someone, "I came to the reunion just to see YOU."

I guarantee you, it will make their day and they will remember it for at least the next 30 years.


Serves 8


about 8 cups home-grown or other flavorful tomatoes
2 small crisp cucumbers, diced
1 roasted red pepper
1 1/2 cups red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
1 roasted yellow pepper
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 head garlic, roasted and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce 

2 medium sized avocados, diced

Remove the skin from the tomatoes and blend half with 1/2 cup red onion, 1/2 jalapeño pepper and the red pepper. 

Transfer to a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, chill. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings again, the flavors will intensify upon chilling. If the soup is too strong or too thick, add water as needed.


  1. AH-HA!!!! I'm IN, again!!!!! "Lucky you." ;)

    Gazpacho, I can just taste it. Perfect for summer.

  2. Hi Karolyn! Wow, this looks SO GOOD! Harris Ranch's didn't have avocado in it, and I remember thinking it was missing! Thank you for the recipe (and the mention)!! We are waiting anxiously for our tomatoes to ripen! in the meantime, I'm salivating! :)

  3. This recipe is perfect for summer. Great step by step photos too!