Gazpacho with Crab Salad Tower
1 pound English cucumber, peeled and diced (or regular cucumber, seeded before cubing)
1 can (28 ounces) San Marzano tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and quartered
½ white onion, peeled and halved
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 slices white bread, crusts removed
4 tablespoon butter, softened
¼ teaspoon garlic powder or garlic salt
¼ cup minced shallots
¼ cup mayonnaise
2½ tablespoons minced fresh chives (or about 2 teaspoons dried))
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 pound lump crabmeat shells removed and broken into small pieces
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
For the soup: In a food processor, blender or submersion grinder, purée all soup ingredients except the cayenne pepper. Place in a bowl and whisk in the cayenne pepper. Cover and refrigerate until cold.
For the croutons: Butter all sides of the white bread and sprinkle with garlic powder. Cut into ½-inch pieces and place on baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
For the salad: In a large bowl, whisk the shallots, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice and ketchup until blended completely. Fold in crab meat and season with salt to taste.
Divide the mixture among eight custard cups. Pack in tight and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold.
When ready to serve: Line up eight shallow soup bowls. Remove plastic wrap and turn out the crab salad into the middle of each bowl. Carefully pour ⅛ of the soup mixture around the crab and add ⅛ of the croutons to each bowl. Serve immediately.
Cook's note: If desired, you could purée only half the cucumber, bell peppers and chives and then run the mixture through a sieve. Fine dice the other half of the cucumber, bell peppers and chives. When serving, pour the strained liquid around the crab and divide the chopped vegetables evenly among the bowls.