gazpacho salad

A small miracle happened in our apartment this week: we paid someone to clean it, and seriously, you could lick the floors [but of course, really shouldn’t for a reason that rhymes with Shmatatouille, not that I really want to get into it].

I have spent too much of my adult life trapped in this faux-Buddhist state of thou shalt clean thy own messes; it’s good for you, I reasoned. Cleaning should be a Zen experience. Please, stop laughing. Quit it.

Needless to say, at some point between work and more work, errands and, I don’t know, waking up on Saturday mornings with a desire to leave the apartment and not scrub the edges of it, our little penthouse turned into a place we were not exactly proud of. And when you are as obsessive as I am, this is a very bad thing. I’d look around the apartment before I left each morning and sigh; this is not what I wanted for us, and come home too tired to do anything but sigh at it again.

chopping tomatoes, tomato knifekirby cucumber

Let me tell you, if you have a Jocelyn, and by that I mean a friend who has been nagging you for years to use her awesome, amazing cleaning lady, listen to her. Because forget Buddha; I will now worship at the altar of a spotless apartment. I am a whole new me! A real weight has been lifted, and with no nagging sense that there is something we always have to do, that will never, ever get done, and what’s the point, lets just watch Top Chef… we are free to do the things that we really want to do, which turn out to be moronic things like marveling over the fact that I think she polished the vacuum cleaner. And the light switch panels. Thank god they don’t just dole out free time to people who use it wisely.

Anyway, the best way I can think of sharing my new-found clean slate with you is to cop to some recipes I’ve been holding back for a few weeks, both from that cookbook you will never hear the end of, The New Spanish Table. The first called my name from the first time I cracked the book open: Gazpacho salad. Seriously, it’s like Spanish panzanella, with all of the flavors of gazpacho but none of that cold soup-ness. (Yes, a staunch aversion to cold soups are yet another one of my food oddities.) Something happens when those cumin seeds hit the croutons, and weeks later, I’m still craving that flavor combination.

The second is a lentil salad for people who are thinking, lentils? In a salad? How dreadfully healthy! Well, this lentil salad is has your name all over it, because it’s lentil to chorizo ratio is practically one-to-one. (Honestly, it’s not very pretty but you won’t care once you try it.) And really, is there anything more you need to know?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back to admiring our spotless nest. It’s so clean, I think it echoes.

oooh, chorizochorizo salad

Elsewhere: I bet you’re so sick of hearing about me, me, me, right? Oh, you’re not? Well, then. The lovely Ganda has interviewed me for her Friday “You Are What You Eat” column. Yes, I thought she only did important people, too! Nonetheless, come over to find out what is always in our fridge; stay for the quince-pear butter. Thanks, Ganda!

One year ago: Pumpernickel Bread (This is a wonderful, light pumpernickel. However, if you like yours darker and more intense, I would point you instead to this Russian Black Bread recipe.)

Gazpacho Salad
Adapted from The New Spanish Table

Serves 4

2 1/2 cups cubed day-old dense country bread (1-inch cubes)
2 medium-size garlic cloves, chopped
1 large pinch of coarse salt (Kosher or sea)
1 small pinch of cumin seeds
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or best-quality red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/3 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
1 2/3 pounds very ripe but firm tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 small Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
About 1/2 cup slivered fresh mint or basil (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are just beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Lead the bread cubes cool.
3. Place the garlic, salt, and cumin in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them into a paste. Add the vinegar and olive oil and whisk to mix.

4. Place the toasted bread and the tomatoes, cucumbers, Italian pepper, onion, grapes, and mint, if using, in a large bowl and toss to mix. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to combine well. Let the salad stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow the bread to soak up the dressing.

Lentil Salad with Chorizo and Jamon Crisps
The New Spanish Table

Serves 4 to 6

1 small onion
3 medium-size garlic cloves, peeled
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1 cup green or brown lentils (see Note)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound sweet Spanish-style chorizo sausage, diced medium-fine
2 ounces thinly sliced serrano ham or proscuitto
2 tablespoon sherry vinegar, preferably aged (we, of course, used more)
1 tablespoon best-quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chicken stock or broth, or water
1 teaspoon honey
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
3 medium-size firm tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup finely slices scallions, both white and green parts

1. Place the onion, garlic, parsley sprigs, and bay leaf in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie it shut.

2. Place the lentils in a medium-size saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by 3 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the foam off thoroughly, add the cheesecloth bag, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the lentils. (If you are making the lentils ahead, toss them with a little olive oil. They will keep for up to 2 days, covered, in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, until nicely browned and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to paper towels to drain and keep warm.

4. Pour olive oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a small skillet and heat over medium heat until almost smoking. Add the ham slices, one at a time, and cook until shriveled and crisp about 30 seconds, transferring the cooked slices to paper towels to drain. (Deb warning: This step made our apartment very smoky. Proceed with caution. If you really want to skip this, you could crisp it in the oven instead, on parchment-lined baking sheets.)

5. Place 3 tablespoons olive oil, the sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, chicken stock, and honey in a small microwave-safe bowl and stir to mix. Microwave on high power for 30 seconds, then season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place the drained lentils, chorizo, tomatoes, chopped parsley, scallions and warm vinaigrette in a large bowl and toss to mix. Crumble the crisp ham slices into medium-size pieces, toss some with the salad, scatter rest on top, and serve.

Note: If you are using Spanish pardinas, they will need to soak overnight before being cooked. Goya brand pardinas do not need to be soaked, despite what it says on the package.

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44 comments on gazpacho salad

  1. Jim

    My problem is, I grew up with a cleaning lady, so I’m pretty much incapable of keeping a room clean by myself. Barely remaking the bed when I go to work in the morning and occasionally stuffing all my errant papers into a drawer are as far as I go.

    This recipe looks awesome, even if I do prefer my gazpacho turned into meat sauce.

  2. Oooh, the bread salad looks really good: I’m planning to make grilled tuna tonight, and this will go perfectly, especially with the fresh tomatoes from our garden. I’ve always liked the idea of bread salad but felt that the traditional few ingredients were just, well, too few. I think your version sounds very interesting!!

    Also, my husband and I have been hemming and hawing about hiring a cleaning person recommended by a friend. I sent this post to him, and he wrote back: “I’ll call the guy today!!”. Thank you for instigating greater cleanliness and order in my life : D

  3. aj

    It took over three years of deliberation, but hiring cleaners is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – COMPLETELY worth the money and the bourgeois feeling of guilt. Good for you!

  4. I am so glad you have reached that point in life where you realized you are too good to clean toilets.
    I of course discovered this 15 years ago…
    Anyway, I am so proud! Now if we could only get Dave & Mitch to call her….wait, I don’t think she would even go in there! aha ha ah ahahahh

  5. It’s money so very well spent, isn’t it? We just had to cancel our cleaners in anticipation of our exorbitant winter heating bills. Now, I’m seriously considering canceling our heat instead.

    Yummy photos!

  6. Did you do the dance of happiness when you saw the results of the cleaning ladies labor? I giggle like a girl when I walk into my apartment and it’s spotless and I wasn’t the one that had to do all the work.


  7. LKP

    I know this isn’t totally food-related, but I have been wanting to use a cleaning service for some time now. I actually LOVE to clean, I just don’t have the time and/or energy. I need someone to give me a clean slate which I can do a better job of maintaining. I have no idea which services are worthy, and more importantly, trustworthy! Can someone recommend a good service?? I already checked and Merry Maids does NOT service my zip code (I’m in Brooklyn, holla!)

    Having said that, a cleaner home would leave me more relaxed, thus more likely to cook more in my shiny clean kitchen!!! As always, I LOVE the recipes/writing on this site. I have printed the brownie cheesecake one out–it is my next one to tackle!!!

  8. Hi Deb, Do you think you could share via email the contact info of said blessed person? I would really appreciate it, as I had a bad experience with a cleaning service. And I wouldn’t hog all her time. I just need help before occasions like when the parents visit, and my mom feels compelled to clean the whole weekend, even though I think it’s just fine!

  9. We finally hired a gardener this summer and I felt the heavens open the first time he was here. I’m toying with a cleaning service, too. You may have pushed me over the edge.

    And chorizo? Say no more.

  10. You are so V.I.P.! When I send the questionnaire out, you better believe I’m going to be dropping your name. Thanks for being my guest star for the week!

  11. Keely

    If you pay your cleaning person a good rate, why would you feel guilty about it? It’s good to have discipline and clean up after yourself, blah blah blah, but you’re not taking advantage of anyone if they’re making decent money off it. And then YOU don’t have to do it, which is awesome.

    Can you tell I grew up with a cleaning lady? :) My mom had a toddler at her feet and a baby (me) on her hip, was planning on going back to teaching and didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend, and decided $40 every week for a lady to come in and spend an hour and a half cleaning was way worth it.

  12. I’ve been slowly trying to talk myself into giving in and hiring a cleaning service for a while. But the guilt…the guilt…
    I think I’ll get over it by trying this incredibly looking lentil recipe. :)

  13. Ok, so this isn’t totally related to this dish in particular, but is more about Spanish food in general. Do have any suggestions for simple Spanish-inspired desserts? I think either one of these salads would be great with a spread of tapas for a dinner party. (Because if you are like me and my friends, you tend to fill up on the apps anyway.)

    I just don’t know what to do as a nice, sweet finish.

    Oh, also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen chorizo at any stores here, which might throw a wrench in my tapas plans. (Last time we did tapas, we had to sub prosciutto for serrano ham …)

  14. Nikki

    Our cleaning service is absolutely the best money we ever decided to spend. We lived together a year before we finally hired someone to do the task that was the biggest source of stress and strife in our relationship. A friend who has been married to her husband for nearly 35 years said it was the one thing that had saved their marriage – and they hired their first housekeeper when they were first married and were still poor college students! Now that is an ability to prioritize.

  15. I too would love the name of this wonderful cleaning woman. Our fantastic Lily quit to move back to her home country. Boy, do we miss her!

    BTW, I love your site!

  16. sun

    I can guess that folks are (sometimes) joking when they say that they’re too good to be cleaning toilets, but you have to watch that that joke doesn’t inadvertently carry over to interactions with a cleaning person–cause it makes it seems as if some people are (only) good enough to clean toilets.

    I have learned that the way to not feel guilty about hiring people to do the things that I don’t want to do/don’t have time to do is to pay them a fair wage–in my old Boston neighborhood we agreed that that meant paying the cleaning collective at least the same hourly wage that we ourselves made. In other words, if I make $60 an hour so does the cleaning folk (in our case, we pooled our funds so that those of us who made much less than that could also experience coming home to a clean space). By doing this, we could hire independent cleaners and ensure that the men and women had steady work; were paid for sick days; that they could take vacations when they wanted and not around our schedules; and have enough $$ to have childcare while they cleaned our apartments.

    Full disclosure: I have worked as both a well paid television producer and a house-cleaner. It turns out I have a knack for cleaning other peoples spaces efficiently, and find it oddly comforting. But it’s still hard to stomach the assumptions and comments that folks make about cleaning people when you’re at their houses cleaning. I’m probably not the only house cleaner who reads Smitten Kitchen!

  17. Welcome to the world of getting help with housecleaning! I had such guilt when I first hired someone to help with this, but then I realized that good, deep cleaning is simply not in my genetic code. And like you, I would rather run away from the house than live with a less-than-very-clean space. So now I hire a specialist, and think of it in just the same way that I let my dentist take care of my teeth, or my plumber take care of the burst water heater in the basement. Specialization is key! Oh, and I love The New Spanish Table, too. Actually all of her cookbooks are amazing; the Russian one is another favorite.

  18. My husband and I were just looking around the house in disbelief yesterday. It’s sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo big, and a total bitch to keep clean. I’m going to email him your post and hope for the best.

    Only problem is, how do we find a good one!

    Oh, and I’m totally feeling that gazpacho salad right now!

  19. Yum! I also have an aversion to cold soups, so this gazpacho salad sounds perfect! And the lentil salad looks great too-I have a local butcher who makes great chorizo, I’ll have to pick some up soon.

  20. I would give up all dinners out and a couple bottles of wine each month for the joy of having someone clean my house for me. It would alleviate a LOT of guilt about never keeping up with it all!

  21. Kristi

    I made the mistake of making too much of the yummy gazpacho salad for our family of three. The next day the breadcrumbs were unappealingly soggy, so I blended it! Added white wine, water, and tomato juice to turn it into a much more appetizing Leftover Gazpacho Salad Soup.

  22. I made up a batch of the gazpacho salad recently and it wasn’t that great. I think, 1–my onion was really strong and I should have used less, and 2–my sherry vinegar wasn’t that great. Overall, all the different flavors didn’t blend well for me. Also, “italian peppers” is missing from the ingredient list, but is in the instructions. I hadn’t purchased any, but had a bell pepper on hand, so used that.

  23. Isa

    Wow! I wish my mom knew about this salad! she’s always making gazpacho in the “soup way” which I don’t like (cold soups is something I can’t eat, I hate them).
    Next summer I’ll ask fo this version, but I already know what she’ll say: do it yourself
    anyway, great recipe, and a great website! congratulations and greetings from Barcelona!!!

  24. Lana

    Just made the gazpacho…it’s hot here in San Diego and this was the perfect cool dish. It was excellent! Thanks for the recipe!

  25. vanessa

    Oh god – there is nothing like having a good cleaning lady. Once you have one you are spoiled forever. I had a housekeeper who somehow found the time to organize all of our closets by season, business / casual and by color – without being asked! We used to come home and open up every drawer and closet until we found out what she organized that week. It was like Christmas every week! I really miss her. My closets do too.

  26. Yay! We made the lentil salad again this week (adding lots of kale and mushrooms for variety) and I just wanted to pipe up that the leftovers are wonderful warmed up with poached or over easy eggs overtop. So good!

  27. Anne

    Is there any way possible to get the lemon bar recipe made with one ground up lemon that I heard about on the Diane Rheem show on NPR? It sounded so easy and so yummy, but my shelf is so full of cookbooks that I can’t buy another one – besides I’m poor ;-). I’m a newbie to your recipes, but think I’ll visit your website quite frequently after hearing your sweet voice on the DRS.
    Bless your little heart in your little kitchen.

  28. Hedgewitch

    Salad calls for Italian Pepper in directions, but not in ingredients. What kind of pepper is it, and how much? thanks very much for all your recipes, I love your blog and books!

  29. Maryse42

    This was delicious! Even my kid enjoyed it! I left out the grapes (hate them), forgot the basil, and whizzed the dressing in my bullet blender. It helped that I was using my awesome homemade bread. Will make again! Thanks Deb!

    1. Maryse42

      Forgot to say, it even made my lackluster greenhouse tomatoes sing… can’t wait to try with proper fresh summer tomatoes!

  30. Poetry lover

    I like the bread-tomato salad, but it has some work before I LOVE it: I added quite a bit more cumin, and I am glad I did. I also find it a bit onion-heavy. Maybe sauté them, before you throw them in? Mine are marvelously farm-fresh, but the bite is still too much for me. I think adding some cooked chicken or chunks of cold, cooked steak would really step this up. It is the first time I have been even moderately disappointed in an SK recipe.