Ajo Blanco with Tom Hunt
Back before the UK became hotter than the desert, I was invited along to a cooking class with chef and food-waste-hater Tom Hunt to show off the new Vitamix (it's the A3 500i in case you've a spare £675 floating around, by the way). Tom has a 'root to fruit' approach to cooking and eating - essentially a nose to tail belief for veggies and over the evening he showed us everything from DIY Nutella to an amazing kimchi made using the florets and leaves of cauliflower.
But the real hero of the night for me was his version of Ajo Blanco, a traditional Spanish chilled soup of almonds, olive oil, sherry vinegar, bread and garlic blended until perfectly smooth - but his uses hazelnuts because they are more eco-friendly than shipping kilos of almonds over, and the result is a silky, earthy, nutty dream. If you think you don't like cold soups but you've only tried Gazpacho then believe me that this is a different delicious beast entirely.
Who could have known at the time that the thought of turning the hob, grill - or, God forbid, OVEN - on during June, July and August would be horrifying? So yes, it's fair to say I've made Tom's no-cook, ready-in-minutes Ajo Blanco several times this summer, and my goodness it is brilliant (even without a Vitamix, sssh!).
I'd serve this as a little amuse bouche if I was feeling really really really fancy (I have never done this but now I want to, ok) or just for a quick and really nutritious lunch when it's too hot to think of anything else. I like to have it with some kind of pan con tomate / bruschetta / mushed up tomatoes on toast if I'm really hungry, as in the title pic.
You will need:
10ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil (seriously, use the nicest you have because you will taste it)
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (once I was out of sherry vinegar and used a mixture of red and white wine vinegar and it was also fine)
1 clove garlic
A hunk of stale bread
Blend using the heaviest duty blender you have. I did mine in a Nutribullet and of course it takes a few minutes longer than the Vitamix did and it's not so perfectly velvety smooth, but I'll take it.
I blended for about 4 minutes and actually ended up adding more water to loosen it to the texture I wanted. If you're eating it immediately chuck some ice in and blend at the end, otherwise chill it down in the fridge for an hour or two before dressing with a few more drops of olive oil and some crushed hazelnuts.
Popping a Vitamix on my Christmas list, now.