Conventional wisdom says that cooking vegetables tends to diminish their nutritional prowess. And while there is some truth to this, it isn’t always the case.
Cooking tomatoes does diminish their stores of vitamin C, but it also concentrates other nutrients, such as lycopene (found in red tomatoes), a powerful antioxidant. Cooking tomatoes is also great from a culinary standpoint. Heat intensifies their flavour and brings out their rich sweetness by caramelizing the natural sugars. With this recipe for gazpacho, you can have it either way.
This Italian-style take on the refreshing soup is seasoned with fresh basil and oregano along with a liberal shot of balsamic vinegar. The addition of some fresh mozzarella cheese adds the protein and substance to turn the soup into a satisfying lunch or light supper. Serve with grilled slabs of crusty whole-grain bread to complete the meal.
For a cooked version of this recipe, spread the diced tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 200 C (400 F) until they start to brown. Let them cool, then proceed with the recipe.
Tomato and Italian Herb Gazpacho
• 1.25 l cored and diced tomatoes (about 4 large)
• 1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
• 1 medium red onion, chopped
• 75 ml balsamic vinegar
• 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
• 75 ml chopped fresh basil
• 30 ml chopped fresh oregano
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 ml kosher salt
• Ground black pepper, to taste
• 170 g very small fresh mozzarella balls
1. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2. Using a food processor or blender and working in batches, process tomato mixture until it is chunky smooth, 10 to 15 pulses in a processor. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To serve, divide gazpacho among bowls and top with mozzarella.