Bought some golden beets the other day. Not exactly a big fan of the humble beet. Though, from time to time, I buy them with the notion that they will start to grow on me. Typically, beets sit in my fridge until I’m out of everything else. Thereafter, they get the standard treatment — roasted in the oven (tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper). Wanted to do something different today, something out of the ordinary.
Started brainstorming and came up with a golden beet gazpacho. Can you make gazpacho with beets in lieu of tomatoes? More importantly, will it taste good? Well, there is only one way to find out…sometimes you just need to experiment in the kitchen. Flop or keeper?
The verdict (drum roll)….
Keeper. Beet gazpacho tastes surprisingly like, well, a traditional tomato gazpacho, though the beets add a touch more sweetness than tomato-based gazpacho. But just a hint, and the sweetness is well balanced by the spices (hot smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne), peppers (poblano, jalapeno, and red bell), and sherry vinegar. Compared to red beets, golden beets are somewhat less sweet and mellower in flavor, which make them ideal for this gazpacho.
As for the rest of the ingredients, standard gazpacho components (cucumber, onion, garlic, etc.), but instead of bread, which is typically used to thicken it up, I used chopped [Marcona] almonds. Beyond boiling the beets and roasting the peppers on an open (stovetop) flame, the gazpacho requires no further cooking. All the ingredients go straight into the blender, pureed until smooth, and then into the fridge for a few hours.
Served chilled, beet gazpacho is an ideal and refreshing dish on a hot summer’s day.
These are my favorite variety of cucumber, an heirloom, Asian cucumber called Suyo Long. They’re super crisp, not bitter in the least, and contain very small seeds.
Sometimes I go a bit overboard. Just can’t seem to help myself — Japanese eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, great summer corn (a variety called Bon Appétit), peppers, chiles — summer has arrived!
Golden Beet Gazpacho
makes 2 1/2 cups
3 large (~1 pound) golden beets
1 large cucumber
1 large red bell pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup [Marcona] almonds, plus extra for garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth as needed
chives, chopped for garnish
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the beets in the water and boil until fork tender, about 30 to 40 minutes (more or less depending on the size of the beets). When cool enough to handle, slide the skins off the beets. Place the skinned beets in the blender jar.
Roast the peppers (poblano, red bell, and jalapeno) on an open flame until charred on all sides. Place in a paper bag for 10 to 15 minutes (to help loosen the skins). Scrape the charred skin, remove the seeds. Place half of the poblano, half of the red bell, and half of the jalapeno in the blender. Dice the remaining peppers and reserve for garnish.
Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend to a smooth puree, adding enough water or broth until desired consistency. Chill in the fridge for a few hours. Serve chilled, garnished with the reserved diced peppers, a drizzle of olive oil, and some chopped [Marcona] almonds. Sprinkle with chopped chives.
Note: A high speed blender (such as a Vitamix) is essential in order to obtain a silky smooth texture.