So, I mentioned below that on the 4th, Stu The Wine Genius made the most delicious shrimp appetizer – a saltimbocca of sorts, shrimps and fresh sage wrapped in pancetta and grilled. We devoured them. Enter a craving… When my car died on Monday, it cut out a grocery run that would have included a stop by Whole Foods for some wild-caught Key West shrimp. No! Luckily, John was able to stop on his way home, although I forgot to specify what size shrimp to pick up… Turns out he grabbed the smaller version, too small to individually wrap and grill, so I innovated last night and sauteed the pancetta and sage until crisp, sauteed the shrimp with lots of garlic and fresh lemon juice, and served the shrimp topped with the crispy pancetta and sage. Damn tasty if I do say so myself. (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
As I also mentioned below, My Minxes and their girls came over on Tuesday to swim with Nathan and me. Man did we luck out with a stunning day, perhaps the best so far this summer. We had a super-simple lunch – grilledhot dogs, chips, and strawberries – but I also made a batch of gazpacho for us ladies. I adore cold, crunchy, spicy, salty gazpacho, it really hit the spot on a hot, sunny day. I dare say that Kim & Suz agreed. Thanks for a perfect day, girlfriends! (Recipe posted in comments, below.)
Tonight, my friend Michelle (she of Cancun in March and UW-Madison in 1987) will be here in the Minneapple on business from the Big Apple. Yay! I’m thinking grilled salmon over couscous with dill vinaigretteand pine nuts, inspired by the to-die-for version (pictured here) at The Post Ranch in Big Sur which I ordered for lunch two days in a row. (As I write this, I send up a little prayer for the town of Big Sur to escape the fires raging at its door, sigh.)
Moderate it: gazpacho is a delicious way to eat your veggies, and it’s quick to make too (no cooking, just some chopping). Make it crunchy, or puree and sip from cups – either way (or a combo of both, that’s how I make it), it’s a delicious way to use up the abundance of tomatoes and cukes that are about to hit us at a garden, farmstand, or CSA veggie share near you. Can’t wait!
Adapted from Mom’s Gazpacho by Elizabeth Shepard, editor in chief of Epicurious
Stephanie’s note: I made this gazpacho without the egg or breadcrumbs, pureed half of it (I like a smooth-chunky texture), and used a variety of fresh herbs because that’s what I had on hand. However, I love the idea of the egg and breadcrumbs and would certainly include them (I was rushed). Like all gazpacho, this definitely improves with a bit of a sit – make at least a couple of hours ahead, a day ahead would be ideal.
2 cups chopped garden-fresh tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped green or yellow pepper
1 c. chopped cucumber, seeds removed
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
1/3 c. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 c. beef broth (optional)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (I added more, I like gazpacho to be rather tart/salty)
1/4 c. finely minced parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano (fresh works nicely as well)
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
46 oz. tomato juice
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hard cooked egg
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
Tabasco, to taste (for me, that means lots)
Garnish (optional), chopped olives, diced avocado
In a pot or large bowl, combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, cold beef broth, red wine vinegar, parsley, oregano, Worcestershire, tomato juice, and pepper to taste. Stir. (At this point, I pureed half the mixture and stirred it back in. Totally optional.)
Place garlic and hard-cooked egg in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mash together with a fork. Stir into liquid. Add bread crumbs and stir so that they dissolve into the liquid.
Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, vinegar, and/or Tabasco to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours and serve. Garnish with chopped olives and diced avocado if desired.
Elizabeth Shepard’s notes:
∑ The recipe serves eight, but like homemade tomato sauce, its flavor improves with age – you can store it in the refrigerator and eat it for about a week.
∑ Why mash the garlic with egg and salt? To make a garlic-infused paste that adds body and substance to the tomato broth.
∑ Use kosher salt to bring out the flavors of the vegetables.
∑ Try to chop the vegetables so that they’re small but not minced or pulverized, and don’t worry if the sizes aren’t uniform. The pieces should be small enough to chew but big enough to recognize.
∑ If you prefer a more elegant presentation, emulsify the chilled mixture before serving. Seasoning is a very personal matter. I tend to like my gazpacho pungent and sharp, with salt, lemon, and onion flavors lingering on the palate. If you want a spicier soup, add 2 tsp. of minced jalapeno peppers. To make vegetarian gazpacho, substitute vegetable broth for beef broth.
4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
8 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
olive oil (if necessary)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 lb. deveined, tailed shrimp (Whole Foods carries a frozen, wild-caught version that is top-notch), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry
1 Tbsp. capers (optional)
juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté pancetta until starting to brown. Add sage leaves and continue sautéing, stirring frequently, until both pancetta and sage leaves are brown and crips. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate and set aside.
If there isn’t much fat from the pancetta remaining, add 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan. Return to medium heat and add garlic and red pepper flakes (and capers, if using). Saute for 1-2 minutes (do not brown), then add shrimp. Stir and sauté for a minute or two, then add lemon juice. Cook for a few more minutes, until shrimp are no longer pink and are cooked through. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir in scallions, top with reserved pancetta and sage, serve immediately.