Thursday, June 7, 2012

You say tomato, I say gazpacho…

Just say “gazpacho” out loud three times… and see if you can help smiling… It’s the happy food of summer! In fact, it's so popular in Europe that the past few years, Tropicana has been selling it in cartons along with the orange juice there!

In honor of Pablo’s Spanish origins, his love for tomatoes (and mine!), and the beginning of warm summer days, I decided to introduce him to gazpacho. I have such a fondness for Spanish cuisine and culture… Last time we were in Europe, it seemed that as soon as we drove across the Spanish border, we felt this breath of relaxation and enjoyment of life… That “aaahhh” you feel as you sit down in a lounge chair on a terrace or a beach, daydreaming about the next meal as you smell the aroma of fish or garlic or “patatas fritas” in the air. When I make gazpacho, I’m able to conjure up that wonderful experience and it just makes me smile… That integration of food, life and its lovely experiences is one of the things I hope to instill in my son on this journey of educating his palate… We can teach our children that food is nourishment for the body, but I also want to teach Pablo that it can be nourishment for the soul.

But enough philosophizing for now… When we went to the farmer’s market last week-end and saw those beautiful organic heirloom tomatoes, well… I knew what needed to be done!

Pablo had had every single ingredient in the gazpacho, so I had full faith my little “gastronome en culotte courte” (literal translation: gourmet in short breeches) would like it. I used the classic Andalusian gazpacho recipe I found in the LA times a couple of years ago, as well as in my Spanish cookbook.  I did adapt it to suit my needs… I didn’t have any bell peppers on hand, so I added a bit of cucumber instead… I reduced the quantity of garlic (1 clove instead of 2) to make it milder. And as one of my missions is to introduce Pablo to the subtle flavors of herbs (I want to do a whole separate post on that topic soon!), this was a great opportunity to add some herbs from the garden. Chives and basil it was. Though it could have been sage and thyme. I’ll have to experiment with those next time…

When it comes to what I call “pursuing the rainbow”, meaning the way to know if your child is getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needs, is by feeding him/her foods of many different bright colors (the brighter the colors, the more vitamins!), this is a winner. With its red (and yellow and green if available) tomatoes, green herbs and cucumber (and colorful bell peppers if you choose to experiment with those – this is actually a pretty good way to introduce a child to bell pepper), gazpacho is a healthy, tasty, refreshing appetizer chock-full of goodness for the whole family!

As the images will tell you, Pablo enjoyed his first gazpacho thoroughly! We were all delighted to see him clap his tongue at the tinge of garlic and cumin, before sticking his nose back into the glass to drink up some more. Plus drinking it out of the glass all by himself must have added to the fun of it all (this is a fairly new skill…)

I will now always have another wonderful association to this Spanish concoction… The smell of tapas, lounge chair, the “aaahh” feeling, and my son’s taste buds tingling in a mouth clap of tangy satisfaction…


Andalusian Gazpacho

Inspired from the LA Times (June 2010) and “The Food of Spain” by Claudia Roden

Age: 10-12 months, depending on where you’re at with the introduction of the different ingredients in the recipe. Make sure you have your child try each individual ingredient over a few days in case of any potential allergies, and as always, check with your pediatrician.

The recipe makes about 1.5 quarts, so you can enjoy it as well for a couple of days…

4 slices of organic bread (I use buttermilk), crusts removed
1 ½ cup of cold water
2 pounds of organic heirloom tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
¼ organic cucumber (the traditional recipe calls for ¼ green bell pepper, you can add both, or experiment with red and yellow bell pepper as well…)
Fresh organic herbs of choice (basil, chives, thyme, oregano, sage…)
¼ tsp of ground cumin (optional)
2 tsp salt
¼ cup + 2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar

Soak up the 4 slices of crustless bread in some water until soft.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes, cut them into chunks and puree in a blender of food processor. Press the juice and pulp through a sieve, discarding the bits of skins and seeds. (This is the most tedious part of the recipe, the rest is a breeze. You can also use a juicer to make it extra smooth.)

Squeeze the water from the bread and place it in blender or food processor with the garlic. Blend until smooth.

Add the tomato pulp, cucumber, (bell peppers if you use them), cumin, herbs and salt. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Blend in the vinegar and some of the 1 ½ cups of cold water.

Place the gazpacho in a pitcher and add the remaining cold water.

It can be chilled, but I found that my baby doesn’t like super cold liquids, so I served it to him at room temperature. The flavors also come out better at room temperature, in my experience.
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  1. I love Gazpacho and haven't had it in a while - I'm definitely trying this recipe. Congratulations on the launch! -lni

  2. your little guy is so adorable! and what a great blog! i have a ten month old and it's hard to know what to feed him sometimes. can't wait to look around more on here!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! 10 months and up is such an exciting age food-wise! Love your blog and writing as well, looking forward to following it. Helene :-)

    2. so i've been meaning to make this since i first commented, and now i finally did! and my little guy loves it! thanks so much!

    3. That makes me so happy! So glad he liked it! I'm working on a new variation this week, will keep you posted!

  3. Tomato soup (of all varieties) is my 2 year old daughter's favourite food and staple diet. Will have to try this one - keeping the veg raw will make it all the more nutritious!

    1. Tomato is so delicious and nutritious, we pretty much have it every day! Let me know how she likes it! Thanks for visiting :-)


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