Radically Simple Cooking with Rozanne Gold: Moroccan Red Gazpacho

Moroccan Red Gazpacho

Blended, chilled soups packed with veggies or fruit make a delicious first course, a zingy entrée, and even a refreshing dessert.

Gazpacho has come a long way since its humble beginnings-the earliest versions, possibly dating back to ancient Rome, contained little more than bread, water, and olive oil mashed into a poor man's porridge. In the Middle Ages, cooks added garlic, vinegar, and nuts to punch up the flavor and enrich the pulverized mixture. Tomatoes and peppers made an appearance in the post-Columbus era when these New World flavors came to the Spanish table. Today, there are countless adaptations.

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Yet the dish remains a study in simplicity. Pick your favorite fruits and veggies of the season, blend them together as smooth or chunky as you like, and chill. Try Moroccan Red Gazpacho as a dramatic backdrop for grilled chicken or chilled shrimp. Serve tangy blueberry gazpacho as a vibrant first course, or top with a scoop of lemon sorbet as a grand finale to a summer meal.

Moroccan Red Gazpacho

Ras el hanout, a spice blend, is available in Middle Eastern stores. Use garam masala in a pinch. Garnish with chopped tomato, red bell pepper, cucumber, onion, hard-cooked egg, or a mix; serve with pita bread.

Ingredients

1 (6 1/2-inch) pita, torn into pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 large ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 1 pound)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 8 ounces)
1/4 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cups no-salt-added tomato puree (such as Pomi strained tomatoes)
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

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Preparation

1. Place pita in a bowl; cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain; reserve pita. Combine moistened pita, 1 tablespoon oil, and next 5 ingredients (through onion) in food processor; pulse until almost smooth. Scrape into a bowl; stir in tomato puree and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon). Cover and chill 2 hours. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each with about 1 teaspoon oil and 3/4 teaspoon cilantro.

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