We’re in the height of fruit & veggie season and it’s hard not to be inspired by all of the wonderful local produce. But with only one stomach, I’m limited to how much of the bounty I can delight in at one time. So it’s my goal to try to pack as many fresh ingredients into each meal as possible. I guess that’s my cue to get creative, or at least search out recipes that allow me to be.
The beets in my garden are perfect right now. So many more came up than I had planned on and one can only eat so many roasted beets as a side or with a salad so I needed to search out a new way to prepare beets.
Of all the veggies growing in my garden, I’m most excited about the beets.
I had a fantastic beet gazpacho at Harvest Vine in Seattle last year and another at Breadbar in LA . I wondered if I could get close to replicating it. I searched a bit online, but nothing inspired me. I spent some time with the library of cookbooks I have in search of a great beet recipe when I finally came upon a book that I don’t even remember getting:
This book is filled with wonderful Spanish recipes and I was so excited to see one for Beet and Cherry gazpacho, that was filled with ingredients I just happened to have on hand. As an accompaniment to the gazpacho, there was a recipe for Mint Granita that seemed like a perfect way to utilize the humongous mint bush I have growing in the back yard.
Sweet and zingy, the perfect summer soup for a hot evening. Too bad we haven’t had many hot evenings this summer.
The soup and granita are super easy to make and both tasted delicious. As an added bonus, I decided to use the leftover granita to make a delicious slushy finished with an ounce of tequila.
Cherry and Beet Gazpacho – adapted from Dani Garcia from The New Spanish Table, Anya von Bremzen
- 1 beet, stemmed and roasted, chopped – wrap in tin foil and roast at 425° for 1 hour until tender
- 1 3/4 lb flavourful and ripe tomatoes, seeded & chopped
- 2 c Bing cherries
- 1 medium-sized Italian frying pepper (?) – not knowing where to find one of these or a substitute banana pepper, I got an Anaheim pepper
- 3 tbsp chopped red onion
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 3/4 c cubed day old white bread without crusts
- 1/2 c fragrant olive oil + more for drizzling
- 4-6 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 1/4 c chilled water
- 3-4 tbsp coarsely chopped pistachios or Minty Granita(recipe to follow)
- Put first 7 ingredients in a bowl, toss and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Place bread in a bowl, add cold water to cover and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain, squeeze out excess liquid and add to beet mixture.
- Blend together ingredients until smooth, (in batches if necessary) adding the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in vinegar. Add salt &/or more vinegar to taste. Add water to thin gazpacho to the consistency of a smoothie. Chill for 2 hours. Serve with garnishes.
- 2 1/2 c fresh mint leaves
- Boiling water
- Ice water
- 1/2 c sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice – I used a mixture of lemon & lime and thought this could have used more than 2 tbsp
- Place mint leaves in colander and slowly pour boiling water over to blanch them. Immediately place in ice water to refresh.
- Boil 2 c water + sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely.
- Drain the mint and place it in a blender with the sugar water and lemon juice and puree until fine.
- Pour mixture into a shallow metal dish, cover with foil and place in the freezer. Freeze until ice crystals begin to form on the sides & bottom of the pan, about 30 minutes. Stir with a fork and return to the freezer.
- Keep stirring and mashing the granita as the crystals form, about 30 minutes or so, until all the liquid has frozen, (around 3 hours).
- Fluff and mash granita and leave it in the freezer until use.