Ajo Blanco Gazpacho

Spanish Ajo Blanco – Almond & Garlic Gazpacho

Summer has arrived and the tomatoes are becoming sun kissed. It’s the time of year when gazpacho starts to appear on menus here in Andalucia. This style of chilled raw soup is totally energising on a hot day – especially when served alongside a copa of equally chilled Fino!

Normally the word GAZPACHO refers to the well known tomato based gazpacho. But there are many other types of delicious gazpacho around.

The word GAZPACHO is really a generic term for any chilled soup which features;
raw fruit or vegetables
extra virgin olive oil
vinegar (always Sherry vinegar in my kitchen)
old bread soaked in water

When not the popular tomato gazpacho, the main ingredients are normally listed in the description, eg. Melon & Mint Gazpacho or Peach Gazpacho or Strawberry Gazpacho etc

One of my favourites is Ajo Blanco – literally translated as white garlic but in fact the staring ingredients are almonds. As the almonds release their milk during the blending process, the gazpacho becomes a bright white liquid. If ever I have any left in the fridge, it winks at me every time I open the door. If feeling slightly weary, a quick glass of this has the same effect on me as Popeye and his spinach. And I’m not even a huge fan of raw garlic! But with the shoot that runs through the garlic clove removed, it never leaves that anti-social lingering.

Points to note;
The addition of bread is not essential, it only makes it more sustaining and makes it thicker.
It’s essential to remove the shoot that run through each clove and don’t chop it too small, otherwise the blades of your blender won’t catch it to puree.
Seasoning is entirely up to you. I always add extra Sherry vinegar to my glass because that’s how I like it.
If you start to make it often this summer, keep a stock of sliced grapes or cherries in the freezer to use as the garnish/ice cubes to chill even further.
If you add less water, it will be thicker and can become a dip or sauce for BBQ or even tinned tuna.
My recipe features the addition of apple which adds a crunch to the texture and gives a sweetness.

(chilled white Garlic & Almond Gazpacho)

1/2 medium apple peeled, quartered, cored & chopped
100g blanched almonds
2 medium peeled garlic cloves, centre shoot removed
1 x thick slice of old bread soaked in water till soft
300ml or more of water
2tbs quality fruity extra virgin olive oil – my favourite variety is Hojiblanco
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 x tsp Maldon Salt
Frozen Grapes, preferably Moscatel

Wash and cut grapes in half (or quarter), de-seed and freeze flat on a plastic plate/tray.

Put almonds, garlic, bread & half the apple in a blender and whizz until paste is formed.

With motor running slowly add the water. Then add EVOO and vinegar. Finally add the remaining apple to allow for some crunchy texture.

Season to your taste & transfer to jug/bowl and chill for 2 hours minimum. Will last in the fridge for a couple of days. Always shake/stir before serving as the apple juice will sink to the bottom.

Serve with frozen grapes or cherries or toasted pine nuts and/or diced apple floating on top.

Ajo Blanco

Chilled Almond & Garlic Gazpacho