The Food52 contest theme for the week of 4/15 was “Your Best Recipe with Vinegar.” After several weeks of themes I found extremely difficult (cereal, tea), finally – this was something I knew. I love vinegar and use it in my cooking almost every day. I probably have 15 – 20 bottles of different vinegars currently in rotation. This recipe celebrates my love for vinegar, and specifically, two of my favorite types – sherry and balsamic.
The Gazpacho Chopped Salad is meant to taste like the classic cold summer soup. Now, a word on gazpacho (the soup). While I’m not a picky eater in term of the things I’ll eat, I’m extremely picky when it comes to food temperature. Hot food has to be piping hot, and cold food has to be well-chilled. Seriously, cold pizza makes me want to die. So imagine my discomfort when I discovered there was such a thing as a COLD soup. After several years of shuddering at the mere thought of it, I gave it a try. And you know what? It was delicious. But to this day, taking that first bite of a bowl of gazpacho always makes me take a few deep breaths and give myself a quiet pep talk. This salad is a little more my speed. Because salad is supposed to be cold!
This salad is dressed with a vinaigrette generously flavored with sherry vinegar. It’s the type of salad that gets better if you let it sit overnight. I’ve used my favorite canned tomatoes (San Marzano) here, as tomatoes aren’t in season yet as I’m developing this recipe. However, if you had two really great fresh plum tomatoes (or 1 large vine tomato), you could substitute that for the canned tomatoes.
Now, if you stop here, you could have a perfectly healthy, veggie-packed meal. Or…you could thaw some phyllo dough and whip up a bacon strudel. Your choice. Me? I choose strudel.
This Bacon-Balsamic Strudel acts as sort of a crunchy crouton to serve alongside this salad. It adds another hint of vinegar with the balsamic-spiked filling, and the bacon adds a smokiness and saltiness to the whole dish.
These two elements can also each be served on their own – the salad is a great stand-alone summer meal (served with a hunk of crusty bread), and the strudel can be served as an hors d’oeuvre.
- For the Gazpacho Vinaigrette:
- 2 canned plum tomatoes (like San Marzano), plus 2 tablespoons tomato juice from can
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- For the Chopped Salad:
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green and/or red bell peppers, diced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (reserve seeds and add to salad if you would like a spicier dish)
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Make the Gazpacho Vinaigrette: In food processor or blender, pulse tomatoes, tomato juice, vinegar and Worcestershire until smooth. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend until mixture is emulsified.
- Make the Chopped Salad: In large bowl, toss onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno, cucumber, salt, pepper and Gazpacho Vinaigrette until combined. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or for best flavor, overnight.
- Meanwhile, prepare grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Place chicken on hot grill rack and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken loses its pink color throughout and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove chicken from grill and let stand 5 minutes, then dice chicken and stir into salad.
- 4 slices hardwood smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 8 sheets (9 x 14 inches each) phyllo dough
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to small bowl. Reserve bacon drippings in pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onion and cook 25 to 30 minutes or until deeply caramelized. Stir in vinegar and bacon; cook 1 minute. Let mixture cool 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 2 sheets phyllo on work surface; brush with a little bit of butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets, layering 2 sheets at a time. Leaving a 1-inch border, spread onion mixture evenly over phyllo. Starting at long end of phyllo, roll up phyllo with filling.
- Place strudel, seam side down, on rimmed baking sheet; brush with remaining butter. Using a serrated bread knife, cut several diagonal slits on top of strudel. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes; cut strudel diagonally into thin slices and serve alongside salad.