Spinach gazpacho with ham ‘crisps’ and butter croutons

I was lucky enough to have been sent a gorgeous hamper of mediterranean ingredients from Lurpak (very chuffed – thanks!) and this is the first dish that I’ve made from the ingredients. A nice light lunch for two or a starter for four.

Spinach gazpacho

Equipment

  • Two baking trays – one must fit inside the other
  • Baking paper or greaseproof paper
  • Blender
  • Small frying pan
  • Bowl

Ingredients – ham ‘crisps’

  • One or two slices of Parma, Serrano or other thinly sliced ham

Method – Parma ham crisps

  1. Turn the oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional
  2. Line the largest baking tray with a sheet of baking paper and lay the ham slices on it – make sure they are flat and do not touch
  3. Draw a knife gently down the ham to make two to three long slices – you do not have to cut all the way through
  4. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and then weigh down with the smaller baking tray
  5. Put a heavy oven proof pan or dish on top of the baking trays
  6. Pop in the oven for 18-20 mins
  7. Remove all the weights and trays and carefully snap the ham down the lines where you scored it earlier
  8. Set aside to use as a garnish

Ingredients – buttered croutons

  • Two slices of a good quality bread – sourdough or baguette, etc cut into cubes
  • Butter (obviously I used Lurpak here!)
  • Olive oil
  • Rock salt
  • Mix of fresh herbs, chopped – I used parsley, basil and thyme

Method – buttered croutons

  1. Put a large knob of butter (about 20g) in a small frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil
  2. Put over a medium-high heat and heat until just about to bubble
  3. Throw in the cube bread and coat throroughly in the butter and oil
  4. While frying keep moving the bread cubes to stop them from burning on any one side. It’s actually a bit easier if you have two wooden spoons/spatulas – one in each hand – and ‘flick’ the bread cubes into the middle with both at the same time
  5. When nice and brown, remove from the heat and sprinkle over a little rock salt, some freshly cracked black pepper and the chopped herbs

Ingredients – spinach gazpacho

  • One large shallot or two small shallots
  • One large beef tomato or two medium-sized ones (don’t use cherry tomatoes for this)
  • Half a large cucumber
  • One spring onion
  • One garlic clove
  • A quarter of a green pepper
  • Spinach – about 100g
  • Chilli pepper – about a 2cm piece of a medium hot chilli
  • A few ice cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sherry or cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce

Method – spinach gazpacho

  1. Boil a kettle and mark a small slit or two on the skin(s) of the tomato(es) with a knife
  2. Put the tomato(es) in a bowl and pour over the boiling water
  3. After a few minutes you will be able to easily peel the skin off the tomato(es). Discard the skin
  4. Pulse the tomato, cucumber, garlic, spinach, spring onion, pepper, chilli, a sprinkle of thyme, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of vinegar together in a blender until smooth
  5. Taste the gazpacho and add as much salt, pepper and Tabasco to your own taste
  6. Add the ice cubes and pulse briefly
  7. Pour into serving bowls

To serve

  • Place the ham ‘crisps’ on the gazpacho and sprinkle a few of the croutons over the top
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