71 Acre Ln, London SW2 5TN
I wouldn’t describe myself as a great fan of Lidl, but for some things it’s really useful. I rate their parmesan cheese and some consumer tests have given high marks to their olive oil. And it’s cheap. There’s also the entertainment value in checking out what random items they’ve got on special offer for that week. Recently I bought a weighing machine for the bathroom and a blood pressure monitor at prices that, compared to those at regular shops for such items, are ridiculously low. Their fruit and vegetables are often good quality as well and for something like gazpacho you can get a really great value meal, without any compromise on taste.
Gazpacho is one of those things for which there are many different ‘authentic’ recipes. I prefer my gazpacho with a bit less tomato but with plenty of green pepper and cucumber. And for me there has to be at least some bread, to give it the right consistency and, crucially in terms of taste, sherry vinegar. When I bought the ingredients this crucial ingredient was missing from Lidl; they only had malt vinegar, which wouldn’t do at all. So I cheated a bit by using some sherry vinegar I already had in the cupboard. Red wine vinegar would just about do at a pinch and, of course, those coping with a gluten intolerance can leave out the bread.
The ingredients to make 6 good sized helpings, based on rough quantities depending on what you prefer, are 1kg ripe tomatoes; a cucumber around 400gr; a green pepper around 200gr; 2 cloves of garlic; 4 tablespoons of tasty extra virgin olive oil; 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar; some white bread with crusts removed around 50gr; and seasoning.
There’s no cooking, except I prefer to skin my tomatoes (cut out the core; cut a cross at the base and drop onto simmering water for 15 seconds) and, if I can be bothered, take out the seeds. This saves some effort in the long run as it’s easier to sieve the mixed vegetables. I then liquidise the tomatoes and use some of this tomato juice to soak the bread, squashing it into a pulp. The cucumber needs to be skinned and, with the green pepper minus the stalk and the seeds, chopped into small pieces. The garlic is also skinned and chopped. I then shove the lot into a liquidiser, in batches if necessary, and give it all a good blitz. My preference is to have it as smooth as possible and to put in through a sieve but some people prefer more of a texture.
It’s then all poured into a bowl with the oil, vinegar and seasoning added to taste, where it is whisked together. I advise against using an electric whisk, unless you are keen to decorate the kitchen. The final stage is to put it into the fridge for as long as possible. When it’s ready for eating you can add garnishes – my favourite is croutons, which is a fancy way of using up stale bread fried to a crisp in olive oil.
So is this really cheap? It is certainly a really great value meal. There’s six good helpings at a total cost of less than £3.00. However, buying the same ingredients at Nour and Tesco would produce little difference, although prices of these items fluctuate from week to week. But Tesco does sell small bottles of sherry vinegar at £1.75 a bottle, which provides enough for 6 of these recipes.