Recipe: Gazpacho

New Yorkers reveled last week when we were treated to an unexpected surprise: the temperature climbed to 65°F (about 18°C), after six weeks of below-freezing temperatures and record-breaking amounts of snow.

And we needed it! After the perpetual crankiness that comes from digging out from the snow, slipping on ice, and watching piles of white snowbanks slowly degenerate into black muck, we needed something to lift us up again. In the warm weather, people pranced around the streets of Manhattan in short sleeves. Faces were turned up to the sun, heads held high, shoulders dropped in relaxation. The sidewalks suddenly seemed infinitely wide with all the snow melted and gone.

When a day like that pops out of nowhere in February or March in the northeastern United States, it's tough to remember that it's still winter and that none of the spring foods you'd like to eat have grown yet. Your tongue might crave the tight skins of spring peas that pop with the slightest bit of pressure, or the fragrant tips of asparagus, but as far as botany goes, those plants might not even be in the ground yet.

Try all you like to be a locavore, but some days, I just can't help myself and I have to buy a few pounds of hot-house tomatoes and cucumbers shipped in from California.

This traditional gazpacho recipe, which was in my ICE cooking class book, satisfied all my out-of-season cravings. I've had many variations on gazpacho, but this one might be the first really classic one I've ever had—and I loved it.

Yield: 6 servings
4 cups (about 2 pounds) chopped and seeded ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced green peppers
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint, marjoram, or basil
2 cups chilled tomato juice or V8 juice
Minced cucumber, onion and tomato, for garnish (optional)

1. In a large bowl, mix all of the soup ingredients. If needed, thin the mixture with 1 to 2 cups ice water.

2. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Place the garnish, if using, in individual small bowls and pass at the table.

Disclaimer: This recipe is from The Institute of Culinary Education. I received it when I enrolled in a recreational course there. No copyright information was listed on this recipe or any other page that I received from the Institute. I assume the Institute owns the recipe and that they do not mind republication, given lack of copyright.