A few years back, I travelled to Seville, Spain with my friend and artistic collaborator Rima Fand. We were doing research for a puppet/music piece that we made together. We will be performing that piece again Febuary 13- March 3, and it has been making me think about our research trip. I took a crazy number of photographs of architecture and murals that later formed the aesthetic for our set, costumes and puppets. We saw and heard some amazing flamenco that informed Rima’s music. We ate some truly memorable food.
There was a beautiful market not too far from our apartment where we bought ingredients for green salads with citrus and olives. and inexplicably delicious eggs sold in paper cones. I still think longingly about a lamb and honey stew that we had in one restaurant. I had just cut gluten out of my diet, and really did not quite have the hang of eating with dietary restrictions yet, so I bought this beautiful creamy looking gazpacho called salmorejo which is a speciality of the region. It was so delicious. Sadly, I did not realize that the creaminess of the gazpacho was from bread that had been blended into the tomatoes. Such a clever, inexpensive way to make a decadent soup…but totally not something that my body can handle.
That was 2008 (I think?) and I have been meaning to try to make gluten-free salmorejo since then. I finally got around to it this summer. I thought that I would try it with the frozen gluten-free bread that I like first, because that would be the simplest solution. I was certain that this would be awful, so my backup plan was to make the soup creamy with a lot of toasted almond meal. Well in the end, the frozen bread was not bad at all and the addition of a bit of toasted almond meal made it even better. Hooray for easy adaptations!
So here is the recipe, and below you will find some photos from the trip and the show, Don-Cristóbal, Billy-Club Man.
GLUTEN-FREE (or not) SALMOREJO
adapted from Bon Appetite
- 3 slices white sandwich bread (I used Udi’s gluten-free bread)
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds or almond meal, toasted
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (yes all that oil is needed)
- Serrano ham, thinly sliced
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
- Start toasting your bread.
- Slice the tomatoes in half across their bellies. Squeeze the seeds and pulp from tomatoes into a mesh strainer set over a large bowl. I let them strain while I prepared everything else and then gave them a press at the last-minute to get as much juice out as possible. If you don’t have a mesh strainer use a clean, thin cloth.
- Core and chop tomatoes and add them to the bowl with the tomato juice.
- Crumble the toasted bread, toasted slivered almonds or almond meal, and smashed garlic cloves in a blender. Pulse until chopped. Puree the garlic bread crumbs together with the tomatoes and their liquid using a blender or (preferably) a submersion blender. Try to get the mixture as smooth as possible, but do not get discouraged if it looks utterly disgusting at this stage. This gazpacho is like a work of art…it has to go through an awkward stage before it becomes beautiful.
- Add the Sherry vinegar.
- With the blender running, slowly add extra-virgin olive oil. Right as you add the last bit of oil the gazpacho will emulsify and become silky and beautiful. Season with salt and more vinegar, if desired.
- Chill for at least 2 hours. I found that it tasted much better the next day.
- To serve, garnish with thinly sliced Serrano ham and chopped hard-boiled egg. Drizzle with more oil if you like.
Here are some images from my trip to Andalusia and the puppets that the trip inspired…
Don-Cristóbal, Billy-Club Man will be performed again in February at the Abrons Art Center. If you live in New York City, come see it!