August 15, 2012
"Tomatoes are really fruits, you know," said Viçens, whacking them up and tossing them into a bowl full of strawberries. "You'll see, they go beautifully together, especially when your tomatoes are a little tart."
Viçens is the talented chef who feeds our Pilates retreat at the beautiful inn he and his wife run near Girona. He was teaching us a tapas class so we didn't argue. But we did want lunch to be good. So we worried a little. Everyone in our crowd had read enough food magazines to be wary of Catalan chefs messing with Andalusian classics (and their spellings) for no good reason.
But Viçens had his reasons. When you taste this soup, you are reminded that there is a certain funky sweetness in a good tomato. A sweetness that you might even call strawberry-like, if that didn't sound so odd.
And it comes out a ripe, ripe red. The color, at least, says "tomato" in a way that my mother-in-law's pink-orange traditional gazpacho (made from tomatoes, cukes, and onions) never did.
Lunch was good.
Gazpatxo de Tomaquets i Maduixes (Tomato-Strawberry Gazpacho)
Makes one quart, enough for 8 as a light first course or 16 in small shot glasses as a "tapa" or hors d'oeuvre.
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 pint (about 8 oz.) ripe red strawberries, hulled
1 spring onion or a two-inch wedge of a Vidalia or other sweet onion, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
optional: lemon thyme for steeping and as a garnish; a little olive oil for drizzling
Whirl the tomatoes, berries, and onion in a food processor (or in the blender, if yours is good).
Add the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and blend until smooth.
Pour the soup into a serving bowl or pitcher, drop in a sprig of lemon thyme, if you have it, and put it in the fridge for the day or at least long enough to chill through.
Remove the thyme before serving. Check and correct the seasonings—it may want a pinch more salt or a little shot of vinegar. A few thyme leaves and a drizzling of olive oil make nice garnishes.