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Try this healthy recipe: Tomato and Italian Herb Gazpacho

By JIM ROMANOFF

Associated Press

Conventional wisdom says that cooking vegetables tends to diminish their nutritional prowess. But it isn't always the case.

Cooking tomatoes does diminish their stores of vitamin C, but it also concentrates lycopene (found in red tomatoes), a powerful antioxidant.

Cooking tomatoes also is great from a culinary standpoint. Heat intensifies their flavor and brings out their rich sweetness by caramelizing the natural sugars. This is an especially good technique when working with out-of-season tomatoes.

With this recipe for gazpacho, you can have it either way.

Traditionally, gazpacho is a fresh, pureed tomato soup of Spanish origin. It typically is made with lots of garlic, onions, bell peppers and cucumbers.

This Italian-style take on the refreshing soup is seasoned with fresh basil and oregano along with a liberal shot of balsamic vinegar. The addition of some fresh mozzarella cheese adds protein and substance to turn the soup into a satisfying lunch or light supper. Serve with grilled slabs of crusty whole-grain bread to complete the meal.

For a cooked version of this recipe, spread the diced tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until they start to brown. Let them cool, then proceed with the recipe.

TOMATO AND ITALIAN HERB GAZPACHO

Start to finish: 1 hour 35 minutes (20 minutes active)

5 cups cored and diced tomatoes (about 4 large)

1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

⅓ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

⅓ cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

6 ounces very small, fresh mozzarella balls

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Using a food processor or blender and working in batches, process the tomato mixture until it is chunky smooth, about 10 to 15 pulses in a processor. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To serve, divide gazpacho among bowls and top with mozzarella.

Serves 6 to 8.

Nutritional information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 169 calories (110 calories from fat), 12g fat (4g saturated, 0g trans fats), 17mg cholesterol, 10g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 2g fiber, 141mg sodium.

Try this healthy recipe: Tomato and Italian Herb Gazpacho 09/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 5:30am]
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