Those tomatoes got your attention, didn't they? I could eat them with my eyes. But now that I've got you here, let's talk about all this summer produce. Depending on where you are right now, any number of these ingredients may be in season, or all of them. I have been inhaling melon and tomatoes the past few weeks, to the point where there might as well not be anything else to eat. I look forward to breakfast just so I can make toast with butter, Marmite, and huge slices of heirloom tomatoes. I pull a big bowl of cut melon out of the fridge when it's snack time and stand over the counter in sheer appreciation of every dewy, luscious bite. Peppers are in and Hatch chilies are being roasted in front of the supermarket by the ton, ready for your salsa verde, your veggie burger, your queso. Peak. Summer. Produce. When these things are in season, they are in season.
So, the only logical thing to do, if we are to take this abundance to a level above standing over the counter and eating melon by the pound in a fructose induced euphoria, is to combine them all together at once! Now, the union of the ingredients you see below is not a new invention by far. Grind the almonds, bread, olive oil, onion, pepper, cucumber, tomato, melon together and season with a little garlic, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. That's called gazpacho. Ok, If I had my fancy-pants on, I would call this "Deconstructed Gazpacho". But I don't, so I am calling it Chilled Gazpacho Salad. All the familiar flavors of Gazpacho soup, but with more texture! In salad form!
I am also going to come right out and admit that due to the Texas summer heat, I have been lazily feasting with my range off, so cooking up the whole grains has taken a back burner to simply slicing off a hunk of proper sourdough bread and toasting it. Cooking with far less heat and humidity because we've got plenty of that. The Manchego is not a traditional Gazpacho ingredient but it's delicious and works so perfectly with this salad! Did I mention that I also bought a bottle of Sherry? Oh yeah, that also works perfectly for a light, cool sip to go along with your chilled salad plate.
This magical season will pass quickly so enjoy the melding of all these summery flavors in this well balanced little sweet and savory salad.
Chilled Gazpacho Salad
- 1 C diced tomato
- 1 C diced melon
- 1/2 C diced cucumber
- 1/4 C onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C Anaheim pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C almonds, whole
- Finely grated garlic, amount the size of a pea (less than 1/8 tsp)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tsp sherry vinegar
- 1/4 Tsp sea salt
- Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
- Sourdough or your favorite dense loaf for toasting
Prepare the tomato, cucumber, and melon in 1/2 inch dice. Thinly slice the onion and Anaheim pepper in 1 inch long strips. Gently place the tomato, melon, cucumber, onion and pepper in a medium sized bowl. Do not stir.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and toast the whole almonds on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes. They should begin to be aromatic. Remove the almonds from the pan and allow them to cool. When the almonds are cool, roughly slice each one from top to bottom either in half or rough thirds.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. I really recommend a generous portion of freshly ground black pepper. It really adds a little pungent kick to the sweet/acid/savory mix of the salad. Pour this mixture over the diced salad and fold into the salad lightly. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
If you are serving the entire salad at once, toast plenty of bread in 1/3 inch thick slices. Otherwise, toast just enough for the number of servings you are using. Now you can make thin, 1/8th inch slices of the Manchego to have on the bread, or choose to shave the cheese over the salad before serving. A simple mandolin or knife works best to make the shavings. I would not recommend using a microplane for this job as the liquid in the salad will make the cheese to wet. You can be the judge of how much bread and cheese you would like to go with the salad.
After the salad is chilled, it is ready to serve with the bread and cheese for a lovely appetizer or a light lunch. Enjoy!
Yield: 6-8 Appetizer portions or 4 lunch portions.
The salad keeps surprisingly well refrigerated for 5 days.