Recipe: Gazpacho ala Adele by Charlie Abowd
As most of you know, this cooking I do is deeply rooted in rich tradition and a long family history, which formally goes back three generations. My family, of Lebanese descent, has long honored the traditional recipes and ties to the old country, while finding joy in interpreting and integrating the “old” ways into our lives as Americans.
My dad, Paul Abowd, first had a restaurant in The City (San Francisco). My folks came from San Jose to Carson City in 1977, where they opened Adele’s, named for my mother. Karen and I bought the restaurant in 1997 and have passionately pursued this love of food and the familial and social aspects of it, daily. It has been one of our greatest honors to share our family recipes with the community.
And so it’s always a special treat when I reach for Mom’s worn, black Rolodex. It’s in this small box she kept her favorite recipes. Some she conjured up, refining each one over time until the end result matched her commitment to excellence. Others she gathered along the way, while traveling with Dad.
Being able to open the box, to have her recipes written in her own hand and on her signature stationary, is comforting in its continuity. Her heart and soul was poured into her family, her love of cooking and into her community. A small part of that love, passion and commitment is captured on each page.
There are moments when I go about my daily duties here at Cafe at Adele’s, that her inspiration and presence is palpable. I hear her voice … add a bit of this or a pinch of that … an acknowledgment we have done well, Karen and I by our community, and sometimes as moms are want to do, I hear her say, “that is not the way I did it.” She’s here every day in the little details, in my decisions and in the execution of her recipes.
Today’s recipe for Gazpacho was one Mom received from someone she met on a trip to Seville, Spain. When Mom returned to the states, she promptly set about making it her own.
This time of year, with its abundance of fresh tomatoes — in backyards across Carson City and certainly at Third & Curry Street Farmer’s Market — begs for this recipe, which traditionally requires no cooking (the option is explained below), is served cold and is the perfect meal or first course appetizer on a hot summer day.
The recipe as presented is totally vegan, but additions can be made to change that up and is noted below.
While preparing this, give some thought to the types of traditions your own family has built around the table, maybe take time to jot down a few favorite recipes, and place them in a special little box….maybe one recipe box for each child in your family. One day they will be grateful for this part of their story.
Gazpacho ala Adele
Serves 4 (Depends on size of serving vessel)
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped, seeded cucumbers
1/4 cup chopped, sweet onion, preferably yellow
1/2 cup chopped, seeded mild peppers (poblano or pasilla)
3/4 cup Spanish, pimento-stuffed olives
3/4 cup whole leaves of cilantro (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
4 cloves (1 tablespoon) chopped, fresh garlic
1/4 cup Sherry wine
2 large tablespoons (2 plus a bit extra) Sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Lime juice (approximately 4 limes)
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice of quality chili sauce (Note: I prefer Tapatio for this recipe. Tabasco has too much vinegar and clashes with the flavor profile).
In a blender or food processor, start by adding onion, bell pepper, garlic and olives and pulse lightly until ingredients are the consistency of a light chop. You may need to add a bit of the olive oil.
Add tomatoes and cilantro, and do a couple of light pulses until the consistency is a rather rustic chop. Slowly but steadily add the olive oil, wine, lime juice and vinegar, in order to avoid making tomato juice. It’s a fine line between proper consistency and juice, so this part of the process requires care. Add salt, pepper and chili sauce to taste.
Allow to chill.
Options: I don’t cook the ingredients for this recipe. If you choose to cook the tomatoes, add an extra half-pound to the ingredients to make up for the reduction. For both cooked and uncooked methods, lightly squeeze tomatoes to remove seeds and excess juice. This is extremely important if blanching, as the tomatoes soak up water. Process as instructed.
At Cafe at Adele’s, we garnish our gazpacho with Sand Hill Farm’s Queso Fresco, and serve with homemade tortilla chips. Mom preferred to garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts. In Spain, it’s common to serve gazpacho with crustini and garnish with capers or chopped olives, and it’s usually seasoned with fresh coriander, which is the seed of the cilantro plant. Spaniards also often add shrimp or crab.
To serve, spoon gazpacho into individual dishes (ice cream sundae flutes are lovely), and garnish with cilantro and queso fresco, or any of the above options.
Serve with a nice 2015 Rose or a light lager-style beer. I have found Reno’s The Depot Brewery’s Ranch Hand Ale is a perfect match.
Chef Charlie Abowd co-owns Café at Adele’s with his wife Karen Abowd. Café at Adele’s is located at 1112 N. Carson St., Carson City, and is open daily at 8 a.m. for breakfast. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information or to makes reservations, call 775-882-3353, or visit adelesrestaurantandlounge.com.