By now, it should come as no surprise that vegetables and I do not make a likely pair—I mean I like them well enough when in a way that tastes good to me, but I tend to not openly embrace them. The events of the past few weeks, however, have encouraged me to embrace change, and after seeing Anne Burrell making what appeared to be a positively delicious looking gazpacho Saturday morning, the idea of having a night of mainly vegetables snuck its way into my head. While you won’t see me permanently eschewing meat (especially prosciutto), this little foray into vegetarianism was a lovely interlude, and a delicious way to take advantage of the last of the tomatoes available from New Jersey.
The key to Burrell’s gazpacho is adequate seasoning—you want to be able to draw out as much liquid as possible to help the soup become, well, soup-like, and it will allow all of the other vegetables to fuse their flavors together. It’s what keeps the ingredients from being a simple puree of vegetables into one coherent dish. For the most part we stuck to Anne’s recipe, but we added a hot pepper and some crushed red pepper to give the soup a little bite.
As for the other dishes, we went with some familiar tapas that we’ve enjoyed in the past, such as my poached eggs with roasted garlic/sherry vinaigrette, some braised leeks that here have been covered by a light shaving of Pecorino cheese, and some slices of Spanish Iberico cheese to add just a little ore substance to the meal. I insisted on us getting the sherry vinegar that was called for in the gazpacho because I also wanted to use it here (in the past I’ve made it with white balsamic vinegar, which is good, but lacks the flavor to make the dish truly Spanish-inspired) and it really made the difference in the dressing. The results made the dish into a sort of Spanish eggs Benedict that packed a much richer flavor (at least in my opinion) than the typical Hollandaise, and our eggs looked so pretty (and had perfectly runny yolks) thanks to us following advice from a recent entry on Dinnercraft.
All in all, it was a nice alternative to meat. There’s definitely something to be said for being an occasional vegetarian, that’s for sure.