Makes 2 quarts (8 or more servings)
There is a lot of dicing here and it is far more attractive done evenly by hand than roughly by machine. Cut and flavor each item separately, and you want the tomatoes and cucumbers to drain well before they go into their final phase or they will exude so much water you will have soup rather than salad
Vegetables and Bread Crumbs:
• 3 cups tomato pulp (fresh in season or a combination of fresh and canned Italian plum tomatoes)
• Salt and red wine vinegar as needed
• 2-3 cucumbers
• ¼ tsp sugar
• 2-3 each green and red bell peppers (lacking red bell peppers, use a jar or so of canned red pimiento)
• 1 large mild red onion
• 2 or 3 celery stalks
• About 2 cups of lightly pressed down fresh crumbs from crustless non-sweet French or Italian style bread
Herbal Oil and Garlic Dressing:
• 2 or 3 large cloves garlic
• 1 tsp salt, more if needed
• Zest of 1/2 lemon
• Herbs: fresh basil leaves are most desirable, otherwise fragrant dried oregano or another herb of your choice
• 2 tsp dijon mustard
• 2 or 3 tbsp lemon juice
• 1/2 cup or so good olive oil
• Wine vinegar if needed
• Freshly ground pepper and drops of hot pepper sauce
• 2 or 3 ripe firm avocados
• 2 or 3 minced shallots or scallions
• 4 to 5 tbsp fresh minced parsley
• Capers, olives, anchovies for final decoration (optional)
Peel, seed, and juice the tomatoes and cut into neat dice about ¼ inch in size. Out of season, include a judicious amount of canned pealed Italian style plum tomatoes – halve them, scoop out seeds with your fingers, and dice the flesh; they are usually rather soft but they add color and flavor. Fold together in a bowl with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp or so of wine vinegar and let sit in a bowl for about 5 minutes then turn into a sieve set over a bowl to drain while you continue.
Peel the cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out their seeds by drawing a teaspoon down their lengths. Cut into strips, then into dice about the same size as the tomatoes. Toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp sugar. Let stand 5 minutes then turn into a sieve set over a bowl to drain.
Peppers, onion, celery:
Halve the peppers, remove their seeds and stems, dice the flesh the same size as the tomatoes, and place in a bowl. Peel and dice the red onion (you should have about 2/3 cup), drop for 15 seconds in a pan of boiling water to remove strong bite, drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again; add to the peppers. Dice the celery, add to the peppers, and then toss the three vegetables together with salt and drops of wine vinegar to taste. Set aside.
Cut off crusts, tear bread into smallish pieces, and crumb a handful at a time in a blender or food processor.
Herbal oil and garlic dressing:
Peal the garlic cloves, chop fine (or puree through a garlic press), and then pound in a mortar or bowl with 1 tsp salt until the consistency of a paste. Mince the lemon zest, add it to the mortar and pound until pureed then add and pound the herb into the puree. Beat in the mustard with a small wire whip, then the lemon juice, and finally, by droplet, the oil – hoping for a homogenized sauce (but no matter if elements do not cream together: beat up before each use). Season well with more salt, drops of vinegar if needed, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste.
Halve, seed, peel, and dice the avocados. Rinse in cold water to prevent discoloration, and set aside.
Arranging the gazpacho salad:
4-6 hours before serving
Be sure the tomatoes are well drained; toss the cucumbers and the pepper-onion mixture in paper towels to dehumidify. The ingredients are to be spread in layers, to make an attractive design through the glass; I shall specify 3 layers here.
Spread 1/4 of the crumbs evenly on the bottom of the bowl, cover with 1/3 of the pepper-onion mixture, then 1/3 of the avocados, 1/3 of the tomatoes, 1/3 of the cucumbers, and then 1/4 of the
dressing. Continue with crumbs, pepper-onion mix, avocadoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, dressing and so on, ending with a layer of crumbs, then the remaining dressing. Toss the shallots and parsley together and spread over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Just before serving, decorate with capers, olives, and anchovies if you wish.
Note: Once the vegetables are prepared, arrange the salad in its bowl so that the ingredients may commune together to make an interesting whole. Leftovers are still good the next day, or may be ground up in a blender or food processor (or stirred together) with tomato juice to make a gazpacho soup…in which you might include the preliminary vegetable drainings which are full of flavor.
From Julia Child & More Company