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 vitamin C content, but it concentrates other nutrients, such as lycopene (found in red tomatoes), a powerful antioxidant.
Cooking tomatoes also is great from a culinary standpoint. Heat intensifies their flavor and brings out their rich sweetness by caramelizing the natural sugars. This is an especially good technique when working with out-of-season tomatoes.
With this recipe for gazpacho, you can have it either way.
Traditionally, gazpacho is a fresh, pureed tomato soup of Spanish origin. It typically is made with lots of garlic, onions, bell peppers and cucumbers.
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 400 F until they start to brown. Let them cool, then proceed with the recipe.
How to make it
Start to finish: 1 hour 35 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: 6 to 8
5 cups cored and diced tomatoes (about 4 large)
1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
6 ounces very small fresh mozzarella balls
In a large bowl, combine the 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.
Using a food processor or blender and working in batches, process the tomato mixture until it is chunky smooth, about 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.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 169 calories; 110 calories from fat; 12 grams fat (4 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 17 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 2 grams fiber; 141 milligrams sodium.