If you love the flavor of chilled gaspacho soup but don't really have the time to make it, just quickly chop and mix together the fresh summer vegetables found in your favorite gaspacho. Chill it. Serve as a side salad or main dish with fresh bread and a nice salty ham. I chose freshly baked Italian Paesono bread and prosciutto.
For seasonings, I kept it simple: fresh thyme, salt and pepper in the salad. However, I did spice it up with one pepperoncini pepper for each serving. Then I made a balsamic vinegrette with extra-virgin olive, a little fresh lemon juice and lots of sprigs of thyme.
About Pepperoncino pepper
It's just and Italian name for hot chili peppers. Pepperoncini is the plural form. It's midly hot but more tangy, particulary when pickled. I had purchased a jar of pepperoncino peppers, pickled with herbs. A good substitute for for a pepperoncino is pickled cherry peppers. It's also a mildly hot and tangy pepper. (These are great compliments to fried fish, especially cat fish!)
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 0
Ingredients for salad
3 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and chopped (Use your favorite tomatoes)
1 cucumber, medium size, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 bell pepper, yellow, red or green
7 small mildly spicy pepperoncini
7-8 fresh thyme leaves
Ingredients for Balsamic vinaigrette
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 whole fresh thyme sprigs
lemon juice to taste (I used 1/2 a lemon)
Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl. For the vinaigrette, mix all ingredients in a small mason jar (or some other small jar that has a cover). Shake vigorously.
With the exception of the garlic clove, work with chilled ingredients. Also, chill the bowl.
For tomatoes, use your favorite tomato type from your garden, farmers market or produce section. There are so many types of tomatoes, I don't discuss them here. But you may want to try the great flavors of heritage tomatoes.
A good subsitution for pepperoncini is cherry peppers.