It is a well known fact that muscles atrophy without regular exercise. The rate of deterioration of one's ingenuity and inspiration in the kitchen after a lapse of regular practice is a much less featured subject.
It is a slippery slope that anyone can find themselves sliding down. It starts with a successful meal, continues with satisfying leftovers, and, oh wait, it stops there. You are lured out of the kitchen. When you come back you can't remember what you ever did there in the first place. That is, if you are like me. And I'm hopeful that you are.
Rest assured, there has been no cooking going on behind your back. I think I would feel a bit better if there had been. No, it has just been the craziness of life and the stark reality that I do not live on the frontier in the early 19th century. Instead I live really close to the most delicious bowl of Pho Bo -Vietnamese beef noodle soup.
Fortunately, Gazpacho doesn't cast judgment. It doesn't ask you where you have been or turn out poorly because you haven't cooked in a while. Its simple flavors speak for themselves and make your first meal back at home a happy one.
And that is where I pick back up. Oh, and you'll need a food processor.
Barefoot Contessa's Gazpacho
2 cucumbers, halved and seeded, but not peeled
3 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
8 plum tomatoes
2 red onions
6 garlic cloves, minced
46 oz. tomato juice (6 cups)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 freshly ground black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Don't overprocess.
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl.
Then, add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.
Fortunately I had guests to feed, so I made a loaf of french bread to go with it. For dessert: lemon sorbet and gingersnaps!