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 also is great from a culinary standpoint. Heat intensifies their flavor and brings out their rich sweetness by caramelizing 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 this 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.
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, peeled and 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 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or 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 mixture rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Using a food processor or blender and working in batches, process 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 each with some of the mozzarella.
Nutrition information per serving: 169 calories; 110 calories from fat; 12 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 17 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 141 mg sodium.