Rustic Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp
I call this gazpacho “rustic” for two reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, you have the fire-roasted flavor of the tomatoes and peppers. Secondly, I leave the tomatoes unpeeled, because frankly I think peeling them is a waste of time. However, if you find the texture of tomato skins objectionable, by all means feel free to peel them. The serrano pepper adds a mildly spicy kick, but for a more intense heat, you can use three. You can make this soup as little as three hours in advance or as many as 24. The leftovers will also keep very well. I suggest grilling the shrimp immediately before serving. This soup also pairs marvelously with some grilled bread.
For the Gazpacho
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 poblano chile
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 pounds large heirloom tomatoes, slightly seeded and diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large cucumber, diced
- 12 fresh basil leaves
For the Shrimp
- 12 shrimp (16 to 20 count size)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chopped garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chopped shallots
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Prepare the grill for direct grilling over high heat, preferably over a small-but-hot charcoal fire using Kalamazoo Quebracho Charcoal. If you have a Kalamazoo veggie surface, build the fire below it. The grape tomatoes can go directly onto the vegie surface without falling through. If you don't have one, skewer the grape tomatoes. Grill them until they’re blistered but not losing their shape. Grill the poblano and red pepper until the skins are black on all sides.
Place the poblano and red pepper in a bowl and cover with a plate to seal in the steam. Let rest like this for 5 minutes, then use a knife to scrape off the charred skins. Discard the skins, stems and seeds. Roughly chop the flesh and place in the carafe of a blender or food processor. Add the grilled grape tomatoes, half of the heirloom tomatoes, half of the onion, and all of the Serrano, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive bowl. Gently stir in the remaining tomato and onion, plus the cucumber. Cover and refrigerate for 3-to-24 hours.
Before serving, grill the shrimp. Prepare the grill for direct grilling over a medium-hot fire, preferably charcoal once again.
Combine the ingredients for the shrimp rub in a spice mortar, or a spinning-blade-style coffee grinder reserved for blending spices. Grind the spice blend to a fine powder. The reason we go through this effort is because the dried, chopped garlic and shallots retain more flavor than the pre-ground options available.
Peel and devein the shrimp, partially butterflying them in the process. Leave the tails on. Brush the shrimp with olive oil and season liberally with the spice blend.
Grill the shrimp over direct heat until they are cooked through, about 4 minutes total. The key is to keep an eye on the deepest part of the slice down the back of the shrimp. As soon as that area becomes opaque, remove the shrimp from the grill.
Take the gazpacho out of the refrigerator and test for taste. Adjust the seasoning with salt and/or sherry vinegar as needed. Ladle the chilled gazpacho into 6 bowls. Chiffonade the basil leaves and sprinkle evenly over the individual bowls of soup. Add a pair of shrimp while they are still hot from the grill to each bowl and serve immediately.