I spent a few days at the Jersey Shore last week, which presented the perfect opportunity to put my my new-found resolution to the test. In keeping with both tradition and the constricts of a sparsely populated pantry, I wanted to cook an easy meal, one that would utilize as many fresh ingredients as possible, in the simplest manner possible. Luckily, my mother had brought her food-magazine hand-me-downs, and flipping through her copy of August’s Cooking Light, I found just the thing.

It’s next to impossible to avoid seafood cravings after putting in time at the beach; combine that with gazpacho, perfectly refreshing after a day in the hot sun, and I didn’t have to think twice—this dish was practically begging to be made.

We made two stops for ingredients: the produce market around the corner for cucumber, red bell pepper, basil, garlic, lemon, and Jersey tomatoes, then the seafood shop for shrimp. The recipe called for two grocery-store items (vegetable juice and plain yogurt), but in the interest of time and…wait for it…simplicity, I replaced the juice with water, olive oil, and a little bit of extra seasoning, eliminating the yogurt altogether. Thanks to our gracious hosts’ speedy blender, the soup came together in a flash, then went straight into the freezer to chill while we peeled and deveined the shrimp. The shellfish took just a few minutes on a hot griddle, then we carried the whole lot out to the balcony to dig in.

In my rush to feed everyone, I completely forgot to top each bowl with the chopped-basil garnish; even so, or perhaps because of that, my first taste instantly reminded me of our trip to Spain. With flavors better suited to Alicante than to the land of Snooki and Co., I’m going to go out on a limb and call this summer escapism at its best. Cheaper than a plane ticket, too.

Chunky Gazpacho with Sautéed Shrimp
From Cooking Light | August 2010

1 1/2 cups chilled low-sodium vegetable juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper [I used regular old black pepper.]
1 1/2 pounds red tomatoes, cored, chopped, and divided
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup chopped English cucumber, divided
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 ounces yellow tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Cooking spray
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/2 cup fat-free Greek-style plain yogurt

1. Place vegetable juice, salt, ground red pepper, half of red tomatoes, and garlic in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed tomato mixture into a large bowl. Place the remaining red tomatoes, 2/3 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup bell pepper, 1 tablespoon basil, and lemon juice in blender; process until smooth. Add to pureed tomato mixture in bowl. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup cucumber, 1/4 cup bell pepper, and yellow tomatoes. Cover and chill.

2. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp to pan; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat.

3. Ladle about 1 3/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 4 ounces shrimp, 2 tablespoons yogurt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil.

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4 thoughts on “Homework.

  1. Marsha Stanton says:

    Yummy…even I could make it!

  2. rebekah wiedower says:

    This sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to make it, but think I’ll substitute the vegetable juice for Clamato Juice…which I love. Will let you know how it comes out! Thanks for the recipe…

  3. Maya says:

    Thanks, guys! Rebekah, Clamato sounds like an inspired substitution. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Becke says:

    I’ve been in Ohio for 15 years, but still miss Jersey tomatoes like crazy. All of Jersey produce, for that matter. When I still lived there the town I lived in was still undeveloped on the outskirts, chock full of farms that grew the freshest produce you could imagine, sold right after it was picked at roadside stands.

    Unfortunately, Jersey gets judged harshly because of Snooki et al (who don’t even live in Jersey, lol), but other than us being a little more forward than most Midwesterners, us Jersey natives really are nice people. I hope you enjoyed the shore – I lived about 40 miles away from Wildwood/Cape May so would go as often as possible. There’s something about the ocean that makes all the stress just go away. :)

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