Hooray! It’s the season for eating outdoors—starlit suppers, Sunday brunches and fiestas al fresco. On weekends, many Tex-Mex families celebrate tardeadas—leisurely, afternoon backyard gatherings. Revelers mingle around potluck dishes (and sometimes piñatas), fajitas sizzle on the grill and children chase each other or play lotería with their tías y abuelitas. Somehow, cervezas seem to disappear from full ice chests. My tardeadas get-togethers take place around my outdoor cantina with its welcoming sign, “LA LUCINDA CANTINA…TEQUILA-MUSIC-DANCING,” and I’ve created a fun “adult” recipe just for such occasions!
Gazpacho, Spain’s beloved chilled and sassy soup, always makes enticing party fare. Its rich and flavorful tomato base—emulsified with tangy vinegar and olive oil—has freshly chopped tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, peppers and onions in every tasty spoonful. I invite some Mexican bravado to this Andalusian favorite by adding a secret ingredient: tequila!
In honor of the spirit of spring and the upcoming golden days of summer, I’ve created a new gazpacho recipe using fresh pineapple and tropical flavors instead of traditional tomatoes. I call this recipe “gazpacho borracho” since I fortify it with tequila, too.
Silver tequila (also known as blanco or “white”) has a fresh-from-the-still, sweet agave taste with peppery, herbaceous and citrus nuances—perfect for enhancing the zesty flavors in this recipe. Before chilling the soup, generously spike it. (For those not partaking in tequila, simply add pineapple juice, coconut water and/or orange juice in its place.)
This snookered soup lends itself perfectly to fiesta menus and presentations. Show off its vibrant colors by serving it from chilled, clear glass bowls or long-stemmed jumbo margarita glasses rimmed with fresh lime juice and seasoned salt. Garnish bowls individually or set up a condiment “bar” nearby with small bowls of avocado, mango, pineapple and jicama cubes sprinkled with fresh lime juice, toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, lime wedges, chopped green onions, cilantro and mint.
Serve gazpacho borracho as a first course, or as a meal garnished with fresh-from-the-grill unpeeled shrimp seasoned with a piquant red ancho chile, garlic, comino and coriander seed spice-rub. Spear the shrimp, chunks of pineapple and red bell peppers and cucumber slices on bamboo skewers and place horizontally across the serving bowl. Or greet guests with a tray of shot glasses filled with ice-cold pureed gazpacho borracho and accompanying shots of tequila, if you wish. This gazpacho even makes a splendid springtime or summer dessert, served similar to fruit compote. Garnish with toasted unsweetened coconut and crispy cinnamon tostadas (make them by frying flour tortilla wedges in hot oil until golden crisp, then drain on a brown paper grocery bag and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar).
To perk up the party, have a chilled bottle of silver tequila in an ice bucket on hand for celebratory shots (or to add more to the soup!). Use varied shot glasses, small snifters or cordial glasses to mix-and-match for the occasion. Remember, sip and savor the tequila—don’t shoot it in one big gulp!
by Lucinda Hutson