Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer in the Raw - Jeweled Gazpacho and Pugliese Pasta

Today, we're just plain hot. The window-mounted AC in the NK abode groans away, struggling against the pea soup-thick air.  The husband's empty stomach groans in a similar fashion. He looks at me puppy dog-eyed as if to say, where is my meal? I glare back at him. I'm seconds away from heatstroke after a long day at the office. One thing I know; I won't be lighting the oven today. And neither should you.

Photo: NK 

While we don't plan to go the way of Demi Moore, Alicia Silverstone, or any of the other celeb raw-foodists out there, we do enjoy a no-cook meal from time to time. The dog days of summer are ideal opportunity to go raw. Check out our latest fresh from the fridge, au natural dishes:

A Traditional Raw Pasta Sauce called Crudaiola - Hailing from the Puglia region of Italy, this classic style of raw sauce is easy to make. It requires no heat and comes together in minutes, but you do have to be willing to boil up some pasta. 

A Refreshing Classic Gazpacho - A great cold soup to use as a cool veggie side, it's even adaptable as a gazpacho "shot" for guests using our fun and jazzed up veggie ice cubes as a garnish. There's no cooking here, just a lot chopping for a big taste payoff. 

Whole Wheat Pasta alla Crudaiola with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula
Adapted from The New York Times - Martha Rose Shulman
Serves 2 to 3 
1 Pint Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, halved (or a mix of red & yellow cherry tomatoes)
Ricotta Salata, Photo: NK
1/4 Cup coarsely grated Ricotta Salata or Parmesan Cheese 
Coarse Sea Salt to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced Garlic Clove
1 teaspoon good quality Balsamic Vinegar
1 Cup Baby Arugula or Wild Arugula Leaves
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Pound Whole Wheat short pasta, Fusilli, Penne Rigate, etc

Combine Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes in a large bowl. 
Add Balsamic, Olive Oil, and Garlic.

Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Photo: NK

Toss gently and season with Salt to taste. 
Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Crudaiola "Sauce," Photo: NK

Prepare pasta according to the package directions.
Drain and return to pot.
Toss in Arugula and Tomato mix.

Toss ingredients in the Pasta pot, Photo: NK

Plate and top with Ricotta Salata. 
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Finished Pasta Alla Crudaiola, Cherry Tomato, Arugula and Ricotta Salata, Photo: NK

Classic Gazpacho with Gazpacho "Jewels"
Adapted from Ina Garten and Inspired by "Weekends with Friends" by Maxine Clark
Serves 8 to 10

2 Hothouse Cucumbers (English Cucumbers), halved and deseeded, then chopped 
An easy way to deseed cucumbers, Photo: NK
3 Red Bell Peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
8 Plum Tomatoes roughly chopped
2 Red Onions roughly chopped
6 Garlic Cloves finely minced
46 Oz of Tomato Juice (6 Cups)
1/2 Cup White Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup fine quality Olive Oil
1/2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Hot Sauce such as Frank's Red Hot or Cholula
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground Black Pepper


Prepare Gazpacho "Jewels" a day or several hours in advance:
Take a small handful each of cucumbers, red peppers, and red onion and set aside.
Finely mince these veggies and mix them together to form a confetti of sorts.
Place into an ice tray. Pour in water and freeze until solid. 

Preparing the Gazpacho "Jewels" Photo: NK

When ready to serve the "jewels", rinse under cold water to remove the frost. Voila!

Gazpacho Jewels, Photo: NK

Next, prepare the Gazpacho.

Veggies ready to process, Photo: NK

Place each vegetable separately in a food processor and pulse until each is coarsely chopped, taking care to leave some texture and not over-process.

After each vegetable has been processed, combine them in a large bowl. 
Add the Garlic, Tomato Juice, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Salt, Pepper and Hot Sauce.
Mix thoroughly and chilled well before serving. Serve in individual bowls or large shot glasses. Garnish with a Gazpacho "Jewel" both for presentation and to keep the soup cool. Enjoy!

"Jeweled" Gazpacho, Cold and Refreshing, Photo: NK
Photo: NK

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