Months of sweet treats and indulgent cuisines from all around the world means it's time for a reset. Kick-off the new year with this healthy recipe to try at home.    

Today's healthy dish hails from Spain - gazpacho. 

What is it? 

Like revenge, gazpacho is a dish best served cold; its icy medley of pounded vegetables, vinegar, olive oil and leftover bread is the perfect antidote to the Mediterranean heat. 

Origins

Andalusians credit the invention of gazpacho to the Romans, though obviously, the Roman version came a few centuries too early to include tomatoes. This proto-gazpacho was most likely conceived as a way to use up stale bread in peasant kitchens, consisting of little more than old crusts, vinegar, water, olive oil and salt. In time, the Romans left and Cordoba and Seville became the de facto home of gazpacho, spawning a host of vegetable variations. 

You'll need (serves 4)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced 
1 red onion, peeled and diced 
1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and diced 
½ cucumber, diced 
17oz (500g) ripe plum (roma) tomatoes, diced 
3.5oz (100g) stale crusty white bread, broken into small chunks 
salt and ground black pepper, to taste 
4 tbs olive oil, plus extra for brushing toast 
1 cup passata 
4 tbs sherry vinegar 
1 tsp sugar 
toasted crusty white bread, to serve 

Gazpacho in a bowl at restaurant Antigua Abaceria de San Lorenzo
Gazpacho is best enjoyed cold © Margaret Stepien / Lonely Planet

Method

Step 1: Place diced garlic, onion, pepper, cucumber and tomatoes together in a large bowl. 
Step 2: Add the bread and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
Step 3: Add the olive oil, passata, sherry vinegar and sugar. 
Step 4: Squeeze the mixture together with your hands to blend the flavors. 
Step 5: Cover and place in the fridge overnight to chill. 
Step 6: Remove from the fridge and pound the mixture in a pestle and mortar, to make a smooth mix (alternatively, blend in a food processor). 
Step 7: Return to the fridge until ready to serve. 
Step 8: Present your gazpacho at the table, served with toasted crusty white bread, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, for dipping. 

Tasting notes

The funny thing about cold soup is that it needs to be eaten when it’s hot – about 35°C (95°F) in the shade would do it, ideally on the terrace of an Andalusian villa. Against this baking backdrop, the unlikely combination of stale bread, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, pounded together and chilled, is deliciously refreshing.

This is the sun-kissed taste of the Mediterranean countryside in a savory smoothie. Variations abound. In Cádiz, sparse water supplies led to the creation of arranque roteño, so thick it could almost be a dip. In Extremadura, hunks of ham are added to the mix. To be truly authentic, any gazpacho should be pounded with a pestle and mortar to release the flavors. 

For additional recipes, check our Travel Kitchen page.

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