16 July 2010

Too Hot to Cook: Gazpacho

One of the (many) reasons we moved to Belgium was the climate. I grew up in Atlanta, where it's hot and sticky for at least 6 months of the year. Dan and I lived in DC, where it's stinkin' hot. AND humid. (Though we used to say that in Washington, it wasn't the heat that would kill you, it was the stupidity, heh.) Belgium, however, is on the same latitude as the southern tip of Hudson's bay. Yesss! Cool in the summer. We checked—not much is air conditioned here. No need! Double Yesss! We almost didn't need the enticement of languages, culture, travel opportunities, chocolate. Cool summers, yessirree. That was it for us.

I want my money back. This year it's HOT. Stinkin' hot. Ok, the humidity is probably about 60% instead of 90 or 95, but it's still hot-hot-hot. And we have no air conditioning. Oops. But we do have good air circulation and lots of fans going. We live by 'beach rules': don't go outside between 11 and 2, do anything strenuous in the morning, spend the afternoon in the shade looking for any stray breeze. Wear very little. The only problem with 'beach rules' here is that there's no beach. There's no ocean to cool us off. There's no pool. There's only us and the hot.

How hot? Up to 35 C / 95 F. It cools down to about 20 / 70 at night, though, and we can fill our apartment with cool air in the morning and then keep it cool-ish for a few hours.

All this is to say that cooking is not high on our priority list right now. Eating either. But yesterday I found some really gorgeous tomatoes and some cucumbers. I had some roasted peppers in the pantry. So I made gazpacho.

Gazpacho is one of those dishes that seems easy to make. The recipe is not really important—the ingredients are the main thing. They vary according to the region and the cook. There are always tomatoes. Sometimes the seeds are removed, sometimes they're left in. Sometimes they're peeled, sometimes they're not. There are always cucumbers. Like the tomatoes, they're sometimes de-seeded. Sometimes they're peeled. I used both of these, of course. I peeled but I didn't de-seed.

Normally there are garlic and onion. I left the onion out because raw onion gives me terrible indigestion. If I eat raw onion my husband doesn't want to be around me. I left the raw garlic out because I wanted to be around my husband. It's really good with either or both of these added back in. If it hadn't been so stinkin' hot, I probably would have taken a minute to sauté some garlic and onion. It was good without it, though.

Sometimes there's bread in the gazpacho. It gives it body. I left it out. I wanted something light, cold, and easy to digest. This was it! Hot sauce. I put some hot sauce in it, because I like spicy food. So does Dan, luckily. Not too much, just enough for a little afterburn. (hmmmm...maybe I should have put the onions in there after all.)

Because there are only a few ingredients, I think that they have to be the best you can find. This is the time of year for this dish—the tomatoes are gorgeous, and the cucumbers are lovely. It's time to seize the day and make some gazpacho. I don't know about you, but I don't have the energy to do a lot more than that.

It's too hot.


750 g / 1 ½ pounds tomatoes
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
1 sweet pepper, roasted with the skin removed
2-3 dashes hot sauce
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
salt, pepper
Olive oil

  • Cut the core out of the tomatoes, and put them (the tomatoes) in a large pot.
  • Peel the cucumbers and de-seed them if you want. Cut them into large chunks and put them in the pot with the tomatoes.
  • Cut the peppers in chunks and add them to the bowl as well.
  • Liquefy the vegetables, using whatever tool you have: a food processor, a blender, or an immersion blender.
  • Add the vinegar, hot sauce, and salt/pepper to taste.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours.
  • Serve cold, drizzled with olive oil.
  • Makes 1 ½ liters / about 1 ¼ quarts of gazpacho.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don't.


  • Our cucumbers here are very long—about twice the size of the ones I used to get in the US. If yours are small, you'll probably want two of them. Especially if you decide to remove the seeds.
  • I peeled the tomatoes, because I don't like the peel in soup. It's a texture thing. To peel a tomato, cut a little X on the bottom of it, and put it in boiling water for 30-45 seconds. Remove it, let it cool, an the peel will slip off easily.
  • I had some roasted peppers in the pantry. If you don't have them, and you don't mind heating up your kitchen, you can roast them yourself. See this recipe for how-to instructions.
  • I don't mind the seeds of the tomato or the cucumber in this. If you'd rather not have them, you can strain them out.
  • You can add other vegetables to this. I put a little bit of fennel in it, because I like the licorice flavor of fennel. But be careful with it-- a little goes a long way.
  • We ate this one night with cold peas in it. YUM!
  • Crostini go very well with this. Yeah, I know, Italian and Spanish. We're not afraid to mix cultures or cuisines at our house!

I'm having problems with my Safari again--probably too hot. So the formatting is a little wierd on this post. Sorry.


Stella said...

Pretty Gazpacho, Kate! Oh, and that darn global warming that supposedly doesn't exist (smile). We have record high heat here too. And beach rules are something to live by, so I might have to make this gazpacho or at least use it as a guide with the produce I have.
Hope you guys get back to normal climate over there soon!

Junglefrog said...

O Kate... I can totally relate to you on the hotness.. Right now I am sitting behind my computer with not much on and still I am sweating. It's even cooled down a lot, but the problem is that our house is very well isolated. It takes a long time to heat up, but once it does; it also takes a long time to cool down... :( Perfect for this lovely gazpacho!

Linda said...

MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm...I made some gazpacho for dinner was over 100* here today!

Pam said...

I've never had gazpacho! Though with the heat here I could use some too!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Oh Kate, methinks me needs some gazpacho too. You're not gonna like Singapore then, it's always over 30 degrees and the humidity's always in its 90-percentile. I guess I'm used to it, even though I don't like it. Maybe gazpacho's the answer to my recent cooking "block" (like a writer's block). Beautiful colours!

Kathy said...

I too love Gazpacho...
definately tis the season!
Yours looks devine.
I'm on W/Watchers and I make a vegetable soup every week with a tomatoe base...Just dawned on me to put it through the blender and serve it cold.
Think I'll give that a try too!
Thanks for making my brain work.
xoxo~kathy @
Sweet Up-North Mornings...

Happy Cook said...

Thankyou for visiting my place.
I love the hot weather which we were having ( as it is raining now ) aftr all the bad weather. Ofcourse I think inside the country I have heard it is much more hotter than the coast. I must look through your older post too.After writting the comment that is what i am gonna do.

Jessica said...

The gazpacho looks delicious. I'm sorry you're feeling the heat when you expected different, but take heart, it won't last forever. In Wisconsin here in the states we don't normally see the all, however I did live in Florida for more than 20 years, so I know what you mean about the heat and humidity. I ate a lot of popsicles...!

WizzyTheStick said...

Sounds more like the Caribbean rather than a temperate country! I guess it flew up north to you. Love the sunny colours of that gazpacho-gorgeous

grace said...

neener-neener! if we have to suffer, so do you. :)
love your straightforward take on gazpacho, kate!

The Domestic Adventurer said...

It's been super hot here too - and thick humidity to boot. I swear one day last week I thought for sure that the air was tangible - like you could almost bottle it up and drink it (not that you'd want to). I always say that I could never live any further south than VA.

Gazpacho looks fabulous!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Hi Kate,
The gazpacho looks refreshing! It's hot here also, too hot! Not a breath of air. Hot and Humid. So maybe I'll just bring the clothes I'm wearing. Of course I'll run them through the machine first.
Also, mozilla firefox runs Blogger better than safari. Why? I don't know, but it does.

Sophie said...

Hello Kate!

Your cool gazpacho looks outstanding for this hot wether, also in Brussels!

MMMMMMMMM,..Keep cool , my friend!

many kisses from Brussels!

June Conte- Pryor said...

Hi Kate , I tried to write back to you to thank you for coming to visit me, but it didn't work , so I came here to see what you are up to!!! .
I can't look, I am not supposed to eat all that wonderful stuff you fix , I am a diabetic and crave sweets and starch and you are killing me sweetly !!!LOL
I love to cook but don't have the energy anymore.So I will have to come to look , but it will kill me. Oh , that Orange cake with Chocolate Frosting , Help !!!!!
BTW , have you ever tried this ? My Mom would make it on a Cold Saturday afternoon for us for lunch or as a special treat.(I buy the dough .) You make Rounds of Dough about as big as Dan's open hand.Size of a Bread and Butter dish , perhaps
You fry them in Olive oil until they puff up and get Crispy around the edges, lay them on a paper Towel . Then you instantly spread Pizza sauce and fresh Parmesan on them and serve . Everyone waits for theirs to cook , Everyone holds on to their plate until you are ready. Eat while HOT . I have done this myself for up to 10 people and they were willing to wait for me to cook them .
Kids love this So much .You keep making them until they cry Uncle!
Now you have one more trick.
Some you serve with just sugar sprinkled on top , better than any Pizza bought and young and old love the the whole process .
Maybe because they are surprised at how fast and delicious they are.
Not Gourmet , but very yummy!
So,you say there are some Nudey Pics sprinkled among these Goodies .
I will have to check that out again .LOL
Aunt June

Hungry Dog said...

Looks gorgeous and sounds perfect for such ridiculously hot weather! Wish we would have some hot weather here in SF. Got the heat on instead.

caramel à la fleur de sel said...

I love gazpacho!!! kiss ^ - ^

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

Oooh, this looks so cool and delicious, I think I'm going to have to try it soon. It reminds me of eating Gazpacho in Toledo last year at an outdoor cafe when it was SO hot out...maybe 100 degrees...and it was the best soup ever!

Juliana said...

You are is too hot to cook and this gazpacho is just right for the hot weather...looks so pretty and tasty with all the veggies in it :-)

Magic of Spice said...

What a nice presentation! Wonderful job...I am new here but now following:)

Barbara said...

You're talking to the chorus here Kate! It's hot. And very humid. But...I do have air conditioning.

Love this soup!

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Absolutely gorgeous Kate! And I love the idea of the fresh peas :-) I know what you mean being in a country like Belgium when it's hot - and there are no air conditioners. Brutal. But sounds like you and Dan are approaching it in the right way!

~~louise~~ said...

The next best thing to a cooling rain, "in house" gazpacho! It looks so refreshing Kate. And yes, feeling the heat in PA too!!!

P.S. I solved my Safari problems and my google email problems by downloading Safari 4.1. (I detest upgrades but...) It seems to work and I'm loving the Top Sites tool bar. That reminds me, I'm adding you right now:)

Stay cool, Kate and thanks for sharing...

Kathy said...

Creative! And your photos are beautiful!! I really hope you will submit this recipe and more to my new "vegan finds" site:


Steve said...

Wow.....I absolutely LOVED your narrative at the beginning of your post. All too often, I just scroll down to the recipe - skipping all of the lame jokes, hipster ranting, and phony modesty - but this time, you gave me a reason to slow down and "cool off". Thank you for the diversion. FYI, I've decided to make this recipe with a group of neighborhood kids in the park, tomorrow. They will love to know that someone living in Belgium is also hot and "cool" at the same time, lol.