Who says gazpacho is a summer-only dish? I say break the rules. Wear white after labor day, pink with red, navy with blue. You can have your gazpacho and eat it, too.
This week, I was experimenting in my kitchen with leftover end parts of vegetables, in particular the whole core and outer leaves of the cauliflower. With these usually--discarded parts, I made a thick, pureed wintery soup. It’s always a great discovery to realize the potential in something that had otherwise seemed insignificant or greatly overlooked.
I loved the texture of the soup, but found it somewhat flat and boring on its own. So with some typical Middle Eastern spices like lemony sumac, herbal dried mint, earthy za’atar, yogurt and some leftover cucumber and spicy red hot chili pepper, this interesting base turned into a more dynamic combination of cooked and raw vegetables with a whole lot of kick. There it was, my winter gazapacho.
Served cold, this creamy, spicy version of a traditional Spanish summer dish is filling and a great make-ahead recipe. You can keep all the parts separate and combine before serving.
So the next time you’re using cauliflower florets, don’t forget about the rest of the vegetable. There’s a whole new meal waiting in the wings.
Spicy Winter Gazpacho
1 cauliflower, head and leaves, cut into chunks*
Sea salt, to taste
5 oz. plain Greek fat-free yogurt
Place the cauliflower in a pot and cover with cold water. Season with a little salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until easily pierced with a knife.
Place the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor or blender and add 8 ounces of the cooking water. Pulse a few times and then blend well until a smooth consistency is reached. You might need to add a little more of the cooking water to thin out the puree slightly. With the machine running, add dollops of yogurt and one teaspoon of sumac. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cool down and chill at least three hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
To serve, place in individual bowls. Sprinkle with sumac, dried mint, za’atar and one third cup of the spicy cucumber mix. Finish with a spoonful of seasoned yogurt.
Vegetables and Garnish
½ seedless cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 long, red hot chili pepper, cut thinly crosswise, seeds removed if desired
1 ½ tbsp. rice vinegar
5 oz. plain greek yogurt, fat free
Sea salt, to taste
Dried mint leaves
Combine the cucumber, pepper and vinegar in a bowl.
Season the yogurt with salt.
*Cook’s note: For this recipe, you may use one whole cauliflower or you may cut the tiny florets from two heads of cauliflower and set aside for roasting, etc. and use the whole inner core and leaves of both heads to make the soup.