When we eat out, there’s always one thing I look for to qualify a dish as spectacular: It has to surprise me. I like dishes that blow me away with their mix of flavors, or ones that contain a secret ingredient that I just can’t put my finger on. I also like intriguing food presentations, like this one time we had a cigarre au chocolat for dessert at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Vertigo, which not only featured a chocolate cake shaped as a cigar, but also came decorated with edible gold leaf to mimic fire and a miniature matchbox full of thin matchsticks to make it look even more real. Meals like the latter remain in my head for months, making me want to recreate my favorites at home. Given that I’m no pâtisserie chef and am totally clueless when it comes to creating cigars and matchboxes out of pure chocolate, I tend to stick to those recipes that can be recreated at home without requiring any long list of skills besides a love for cooking and a couple of kitchen tools and appliances.
Jon and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary in Punta Cana a couple of weeks ago over dinner at Passion, one of the Spanish chef’s Martin Berasategui’s restaurants. Berasategui holds eight stars (which, I have to mention, is the highest amount any Spanish chef holds), and has restaurants around the world, including one in the Paradisus Palma Real resort in Punta Cana. In addition to the wonderful company, the entire meal was incredible from start to finish. We had all sorts of delectable dishes, such as risotto filled with fennel or beef infused with guava fruit. Although everything we ordered was unbelievable, one dish really took our breaths away, and that was a gazpacho. How could a gazpacho be soooooo extraordinary that it would prompt me to dedicate a whole post to it? See, gazpacho is almost always made with the same ingredients, but this version was bright orange — not bright red, like we’re used to — and tasted like heaven.
We guzzled down the cold soup in a matter of seconds, asking our waiter what gives the gazpacho its orange hue. “Mango, of course, we’re in Punta Cana, we had to add mangoes!” he replied. Mangos! What a genius idea. I took note of everything I loved in the recipe — its creaminess, sharp flavor, mix of sweet and sour — promising Jon that I would recreate something similar when we’d be back home.
If you’ve never added mangoes to gazpacho, I urge you do so immediately. Especially during the heat of summer when there’s nothing better than a cold and refreshing soup to keep you going! If you need some convincing that this is the best thing since, let’s say, combining peanut butter and Nutella, here are my top five reasons:
It sweetens your gazpacho while decreasing the acidity of tomatoes
It gives it such a creamy consistency
It gives it an exotic twist like no other
It helps balance out all the flavors if you like your soup spicy
But most of all, it will leave your guests and family guessing what the secret ingredient is. And after all, an intriguing dish is one that makes it memorable, and therefore, incredible.
- 3 big tomatoes
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (depending on how strong you like the taste), sliced in half
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 small cucumber, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 mango, peeled and roughly sliced, keeping 2 tablespoons of diced mango for garnish
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons diced mango
- Combine all the ingredients in the blender, working in two batches if necessary. Blend until liquified. The gazpacho should be entirely liquid and not chunky, so continue to blend until you reach the perfect consistency. Add a bit of water if it isn't smooth enough.
- Chill the gazpacho until ready to serve. Mix it, adding a bit of water if it needs to be smoother. Serve the gazpacho in individual bowls, topping each with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped cherry tomatoes and diced mango.
How did your surprise-ingredient gazpacho come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram with the hashtag #savormania