Gazpacho Verde

Thanks to my excellent neighbors and their surplus crop of seedlings this spring, I'm growing tomatillos for the first time this summer. They are fairly easy to grow and are somewhat similar in maintenance to a tomato plant. They first show husks, then the tomatillos ripen and fill the husks and are ready for harvest (though I've had to learn when to pick them, as much of my harvesting has been from the ground!).

They seem to do well left on the counter for several days. When you are ready to use them, you remove the husk, rinse them (they are very sticky!), cut out the small core and then use them to your hearts desire. After said excellent neighbors stopped by with a bag of nearly two pounds of their tomatillos, I knew I had enough for a big batch of tomatillo gazpacho, or gazpacho verde as I've renamed it.

It's a simple recipe and merely requires a quick saute of some garlic, some chopping and blending in the food processor and chilling in the fridge. It's great for a hot summer day, and is a refreshing change from regular gazpacho.

Gazpacho Verde
Adapted from Eating Well In Season by Jessie Price and the Editors of Eating Well
Serves 4

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 avocado, halved and pitted (*see note)
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chipped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 c chicken or vegetable broth (or 1c broth and 1c water)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz cooked and peeled shrimp, chopped (optional *see directions below Note for use)

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown (1-2 minutes). Remove from heat.

Coarsely chop half the cucumber and the avocado and place in food processor. Add tomatillos, bell pepper, jalapeno (if desired) and garlic. Process until smooth (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl; stir in broth, sugar and salt.

Chill gazpacho for 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Dice remaining cucumber and set aside. Ladle gazpacho into bowls and top with a sprinkling of diced cucumber.

Note: The original recipe calls for avocado and shrimp 'salad' on top. I made my gazpacho ahead of time to chill most of the afternoon and didn't want my avocado to brown, so I just blended the whole avocado into the soup, rather than using half as the recipe stated (the other half being reserved for the salad). I had no jalapenos so didn't use them. I didn't feel like thawing shrimp, so I didn't use that either. I've included additional directions below for using the shrimp and avocado salad on top.

Alternatively, dice remaining cucumber and avocado and place in medium bowl. Add shrimp. Drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp oil and gently toss to combine. Ladle gazpacho into bowls and top each portion with about 3/4 c of the shrimp 'salad'.

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