All over the better part of the country, we’ve baked during another oven-like week. When it gets this consistently hot I find that I neither want to cook (for fear of overheating the kitchen) nor eat anything warmer than about 60°F—with the notable exception of a grilled cheese sandwich.
Of course, there is the valid argument that hot foods—both temperature hot and spice hot—act to warm up your body, making you sweat, and that sweat then cools you off. It’s why we eat spicy and hot foods in hot places like India and Mexico and Southeast Asia. But I feel like I’ve already sweat a summer’s worth of perspiration. I’m planning on keeping things chill this week.
One of my favorite summer dinners is a bowl of cool gazpacho and a grilled cheese sandwich. On the hottest days I actually wake up thinking about chilled, tangy tomato soup, made rich with olive oil and paired with crisp, grilled bread that oozes cheddar.
But this year, the vegetables haven’t caught up to the weather. Or rather, the weather has moved too swiftly for the vegetables. My tomatoes are still green, acidic, and rock hard. But the first zucchini are ready to eat. To satiate my gazpacho craving and keep my body temperature at a reasonable level, I’ve put together this green version of the classic Spanish soup, served, of course, with a grilled cheese.
Makes about 4 1/2 cups
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 cubanelle or Italian frying pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green apple, cored and chopped
1/2 small shallot
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Puree zucchini, pepper, apple, shallot, water, vinegar, mint, cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour oil into blender, blending until combined. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste. Serve chilled.