I wish I had realized sooner what a wonderful resource the Monon Trail is. You really can get just about anywhere you would want to go ON A BIKE! I had discovered earlier that I could get to the Clay Terrace shopping center via the Monon, but when I accompanied a friend on a ride to Broad Ripple a few weeks ago I realized I could have ridden my bike to work, to school, to various friends' houses, and, of course, to Broad Ripple. AWESOME. Especially since my brother has found a new interest in claiming the car we're supposed to be sharing... :/.
But on this particular day I was going to Broad Ripple, a fairly leisurely 60 minute ride from my house, to meet a couple friends for lunch at Ripple Bagel Deli. If you haven't been there, you need to go. Stop reading, start driving, it's delicious. They have about a dozen types of bagels and countless combinations of sandwiches that you can make out of them. Not only are there like four giant blackboards covered with all the combinations that form their menu, but anything that could have been mistaken for free space has been covered by customer concoctions drawn on sheets of printer paper. A dangerous place for the indecisive, but I make do ;). For any sandwich your bagel obviously houses all the ingredients and can be served as is, toasted, or (what they're known for and I definitely recommend) toasted.
I had picked out a really delicious sounding veggie sandwich, something loaded with tomatoes and sprouts and hummus and avocados and other goodness, but when I saw that their soup of the day was gazpacho I changed my mind. What is gazpacho you ask? I had no idea! I looked it up on my ever faithful iPhone and wikipedia told me it was a cold raw tomato based soup. Which sounds kinda gross... but being me I decided, what the heck, and ordered it!
IT'S SO GOOD! It was really hot that day and this chilled soup is frickin delicious. I didn't think pureed tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers or whatever they put in their could be so fantastic but it was delicious and I was hooked. (Better yet, I order a funky bagel type roll called a bialy, steamed of course, that paired with it perfectly.) As I mentioned in my last blog entry I'm going to Turkey Run for a day trip with some friends, tomorrow actually, and not only am I taking the oreos I made yesterday, but I'm also bringing along... you guessed it! Gazpacho!
I didn't think a soup was the greatest of all ideas, but never fear! It comes in salad form! :D So I went to work chopping tomatoes, little cucumbers, peppers, and garlic I picked up at the Carmel Farmers' Market this morning and then powered through fennel, celery, and green onions I resorted to picking up at Meijer this afternoon. I tossed this ridiculously large pile of veggies with a lemon vinaigrette and voila! Gazpacho Salad!
Oh yes, and I added a can of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), an idea provided by my mother that I thought was brilliant.
One of the best parts about making Gazpacho as a salad rather than a soup is the croutons. Homemade from ciabatta bread, these little cubes were pan toasted in olive oil and Italian seasonings. They soak up the dressing on the salad and add fabulous flavor and texture.
If you're fine with chopping vegetables, this is a really simple recipe. It's a great summer salad, especially if you have a Farmers' Market nearby or a vegetable garden. If you're not a fan of a particular vegetable, simply omit it! And if you'd rather go the soup route just add some light chicken broth or water to your vegetables and give it a quick buzz in your food processor. This is a great recipe to make a day in advance because the flavors blend while the vegetables sit in the fridge, it's also a great option because it's light, healthy, and SO GOOD!
- 6 plum tomatoes, chopped (I seeded beefsteak tomatoes because that's all I could find at the
market, just make sure you take the seeds out of whatever kind you choose to use)
- 1 English cucumber (or 2 to 3 small cucumbers), seeded and chopped
- 1 or 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 6 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 small bulb fennel, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 colorful peppers, chopped
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 slices ciabatta or 1 to 2 ciabatta rolls, diced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp mixed herbs (I used Italian seasoning)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about one fresh lemon)
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper to taste (I used just a pinch of white pepper)
Toss the cubed ciabatta with the olive oil and herbs then pan fry them until browned and crisp. Set them aside to cool. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss together the chopped vegetables, garlic, onion, and garbanzo beans. Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture and gently toss. You can add the croutons in whenever you like, I have mine reserved in a ziplock because I like them crunchy, but you can put them in the salad well ahead of time if you'd prefer, they'll be a little soggy, but they'll absorb more of the dressing and taste fantastic!