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Ajo Blanco

I’ve wanted to post a recipe for ajo blanco since my friend Félix Ortiz told me about it several weeks ago.  Waiting out the garlic scapes and spring varieties in the farmer’s market, I finally tried it when the first full formed garlic appeared.  Trying to incorporate the mashing with the blending with the right amount of water, I ended up with three consecutive batches of garlic milk.  If you haven’t tried garlic milk, don’t.  Consulting Anya Von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table, I was able to figure out what went wrong.  Without a mortar and pestle large enough to really work the oil into the bread and almond mixture, it didn’t emulsify the way it should, either too thin or too grainy.  I switched over to the blender after making the initial paste and it gave me the right consistency in a few whirls.  The final result was smooth, refreshing, and easy.  Typical of Málaga, this creamy white gazpacho makes a great light, mid-summer meal.

Ajo Blanco/Almond and Garlic Gazpacho with Green Grapes
This recipe is adapted from Anya von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table.  For the complete recipe, click here.  I added green grapes, apples and figs can be substituted.

3 cups, baguette, crust removed and cubed
1 cup whole almonds
2 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chilled water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Green grapes, sliced

Soak the bread in water to cover for 5-10 minutes.  Drain and squeeze out excess liquid.  Place the bread into a blender.

In a pot of boiling water, blanch the almonds 1-2 minutes.  Strain and peel.  Finely chop or grind in a food processor.  Using a mortar and pestle, mash the salt, garlic, and almonds to a fine paste.  Add to blender.

Puree paste and bread with 1 cup of cold water till smooth.  With blender running at high speed, pour the olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified.

Pour mixture into a bowl and mix in vinegar.  Add remaining 1/2 cup of water till it has the consistency of thick cream or smoothie.  Adjust vinegar and salt to taste.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

Add grapes and serve with fried bread or croutons.

Makes 6 servings.

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