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Smoothie Meet Gazpacho

My cousin Lise is always throwing whatever's ripe from her garden into a Cuisinart along with garlic and yogurt. The results are always tasty and refreshing.
So rather than escaping to an air-conditioned restaurant on this scorching hot summer night, I was inspired to open a bottle of chilled rose and work blender magic with this recipe that Melissa Clark wrote about in the NYT (7-14-10)
Within 15 minutes I was consuming a cool bit of heaven.

Time 20 minutes
Serves 4

6 tablespoons grated pecorino, if you are making the fried cheese
(I think it’s too intense—salty, high caloric—for casual dining, better for dinner parties as an option)

2 large tomatoes (about 1 lb) cored and roughly chopped

1 ½ cups (12 ounces) plain sheep’s-milk or regular yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
(The recipe calls more for serving but I think unnecessary for this hot night/cool summer dish)

12 basil leaves, roughly chopped. More for serving

2 large garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped

2 scallions (white & light green parts) roughly chopped

2 ice cubes

3/4 tsp kosher salt (the recipe calls for 1 ¾ tsp but I recommend adjusting seasoning after ingredients are mixed)

1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar, possibly more to taste
(My red vinegar had spoiled so I used white balsamic, which was delish)

Pinch cayenne pepper

Ground black pepper to taste

1. (If you are making the crackers…) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spread 2 tbsp cheese into a think layer in skillet; let melt and brown on bottom, about 30 seconds-one minute). Use a spatula to flip cheese; let cook until evenly browned on both sides, about a minute more. Transfer fired cheese to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining cheese, working 2 tbsp at a time. Break fired cheese into large pieces.

2. To make soup, place tomatoes, yogurt, olive oil, basil, garlic, scallions, ice cubes, salt, vinegar, cayenne and black pepper in a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste to add more salt & vinegar, if necessary. Pour into small bowls. Garnish with pieces of fried cheese (optional) & chopped basil. Drizzle soup with olive oil (OR NOT!)


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