A cool gazpacho is a happy medium in a hot, sticky August
It's August, and I'm hot.
It's August, and I'm cold.
Between the blistering heat and the ubiquitous overcompensating air conditioners, it seems like there is no happy medium this summer.
So rather than fight it anymore, I decided to embrace the extremes and make an icy cold green gazpacho paired with spicy hot shrimp. The soup comes together in the blender, and the shrimp cooks on the grill, so it's a perfect summer starter.
This recipe calls for tomatillos, which have a bright, tart, almost lemony flavor and are very popular in Mexican cuisine. If you haven't used them before, they have papery husks that need to be removed, but that's easy enough. All you have to do is lift them and twist them off at the stem. The fruit underneath will be sticky, so rinse it off before you use it.
The rest of this recipe is summer simple. The soup has a tangy flavor that can be toned down with more avocado or exaggerated with a splash more vinegar. The shrimp is a nice contrast to the soup and can be served on the side and dipped into the soup. (There will be plenty of leftover shrimp for snacking and dipping).
Of course, once you get the blender out and the grill fired up, put them to good use for the rest of the meal. I grilled corn on the cob and a few chicken breasts and put the blender to use by whipping up margaritas.
A little bit of heat with a nice cool finish makes August far more tolerable -- enjoyable even.
• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's vice president of sales and marketing and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com/.
1 cup quartered tomatillos
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery
1 tablespoon each cilantro, mint and basil leaves, chopped
½ avocado, peeled and pitted
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor or in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Add more salt and vinegar if needed. Chill.
½ pound large uncooked shrimp, tail-on
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix the spices with the olive oil and marinate the shrimp at room temperature for 30 minutes. Put them on skewers -- about four or five to a skewer -- and grill for about two minutes on each side or until they turn opaque.
Serve the gazpacho in glasses or small bowls with a shrimp dangling over the side.
Adapted from food52.com