This molded gazpacho salad is one of my favorite summer meals. It has all the wonderful flavors of a classic gazpacho soup, is bursting with the textures and flavors of tomatoes and summer vegetables and can be made ahead in just a few minutes of stove top cooking. My mother loved this recipe, which she got from her mother, and it often showed up on our Thanksgiving and Easter dinner table. It’s a meal all by itself with some crusty bread and a nice glass of Oregon wine. It’s hard to believe that it is one of the most reviled dishes of the 20th century when it was called by its other name – the dreaded tomato aspic.
Aspic recipes have been found that date back to the fourteenth century and I can imagine children seated at the dinner table complained about eating it as much back then as they do now. My kids wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Just say the name “tomato aspic” to them to see them shudder in disgust. I have read comments on other bloggers’ aspic posts and they are hilarious. Examples: “It’s terrifying in its nastiness” “I detest it” “Tomato aspic is disgusting” “I hope tomato aspic never makes a comeback”. You get the idea.
Bad press aside, I think this molded salad is a real jewel and I know it is probably something you will either love or hate. The texture is wonderful, not rubbery the way jello can sometimes be. If you are curious I hope you will try it…the recipe is easy to cut in half…and you can add whatever veggies you prefer. I added small shrimp to the recipe this time, but I often leave it out. My mom’s original recipe listed lemon jello as the thickener (very popular in the 50’s and 60’s) but it’s a little sweet for me so I substituted gelatin and lemon juice in my version. The recipe fills a 5-cup mold or makes great little individual salads if you have the small molds. I used tomato juice but half tomato and half V8 is delicious too.
Record setting hot weather has been hard on my garden but has produced a bumper crop of tomatoes. There is nothing like stepping outside and picking a handful of warm from the sun, vine ripened cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100’s).
I heard a strange noise outside near my patio very early Saturday morning and went outside to investigate. I looked up to see a hot air balloon hovering right over my house…so close I could say “good morning” and they said it back. I see them in the sky all the time but never that close. They could have landed in my front yard. Three of them did land one street over in a church parking lot. A dozen neighbors…me included…were out in our bathrobes taking pictures as these enormous balloons descended. What a thrill!
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups good quality tomato juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon cream horseradish sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- dash Tabasco sauce
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup celery, finely chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup green pepper, finely chopped
- ½ cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
- 1 cup cooked cocktail shrimp, optional
- In a medium saucepan combine the gelatin and sugar, mixing well. Slowly stir in 2 cups of tomato juice and the bay leaf until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the rest of the tomato juice, salt, celery salt, horseradish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and lemon juice and vinegar.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until syrupy. Watch it so it doesn't firm up. It usually takes about 30-45 minutes. Check often.
- Gently stir the remaining ingredients into the thickened juice, pour into a mold and refrigerate until firm. Garnish with a little mayo if desired.