How to make a great gazpacho

The key is improvisation

Gazpacho
(Image credit: (<a href="http://www.tastingtable.com/entry_detail/national/17774/What_Fruits_and_Vegetables_to_Use_in_Summer_Gazpacho_Variat.htm">Tasting Table</a>))

"Gazpacho is the perfect summer dish," says Andy Nusser, chef at Casa Mono, Mario Batali's diminutive and delicious Spanish restaurant in New York.

The simple summery soup is a Spanish staple. In the southern region of Andalusia, they mash juicy tomatoes and stale bread with a mortar and pestle, then drizzle in olive oil and vinegar until the whole thing thickens a bit.

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It's bright and tartly refreshing and, best of all, very adaptable. And, in keeping with our focus on keeping the oven off for No Cook Month, you don't have to turn the oven on to make it.

Nusser plays with the addition of various seasonal fruits. But whatever mix you go for, certain rules apply: "It should always be acidic yet sweet and piquant and with lots of body from the emulsifying oil. And always serve it refreshingly cold — that's how I learned it from my mother back in Sitges, Spain."

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We took his advice to the greenmarket to seek out candidates for inclusion in some light, beautiful, decidedly nontraditional but thoroughly satisfying gazpachos.

To make gazpacho, start with great tomatoes or the fruit of your choice; add some stale bread, crusts removed, and balance with something nutty and an interesting hit of acid. Check out our Gazpacho Variations, a loose guide to making great cold soups from whatever calls to you from the greenmarket (or the veggie drawer of your fridge).

We put several batches of market finds through the blender: Creamy canteloupe and peaches got some added zing from red wine vinegar; yogurt, cucumbers and golden raisins resulted in an ultra rich, almost breakfast-y mix.

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Our favorite by far was a mélange of sweet green grapes, cucumber and hazelnut with a dash of sherry vinegar, finished with chopped chives and dotted prettily with olive oil. It was earthy, nutty, with just enough acid — exactly what we want to be slurping through these waning days of summer.

Tasting Table is a culinary lifestyle brand that obsesses over what to eat and drink so you don't have to. It's like having a foodie best friend to distill the culinary world into must-do, must-eat, and must-know recommendations, on everything from the best Thai in the Village to the top tequila pours in Outer Mission. Hungry yet?

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