There are recipes with so much to tell that they could easily become a cooking book of their own right. I like to think of the salmorejo as one those recipes.
Preparing a salmorejo feels like taking part in a masterclass on the history of Mediterranean gastronomy. I still find fascinating how such a simple recipe can tell us so much about all the different communities who have been living, cooking and eating around this beautiful part of the world which is southern Spain.
To understand the salmorejo recipe as we know it today we need to travel back in time and meet our Mediterranean and Mesopotamian ancestors, who would already soak bread in water to prepare the base for cold soups. The addition of olive oil and vinegar came a bit later and it’s usually credited to the Romans, although knowing how much the Al Andalus Moors loved vinegar, they most likely applied their expert knowledge to improve the recipe.
Some few centuries passed by and it was only by the end of the 18th that some flavouring was added to the basic recipe in the form of salt and garlic. Finally, the discovery of the ‘New World’ brought another major contribution with the introduction of one of the star ingredients that made it all the way from America: the tomato. It took a while though as this only happened by the end of the 19th century!!
Today, many different types of salmorejo share the best chefs’ tables with other experimental creations like the beetroot salmorejo we showed you here awhile ago (soooo good!!)
However the basic recipe remains the same. The same recipe that bridged neolithic cuisine with contemporary cuisine, the ‘Old World’ and the ‘New World’, the most traditional cooking with the most innovative kitchens.
What is the secret? I can’t explain it easily. But go and make yourself one. Perhaps you’ll discover why such a simple recipe has captivated the local stomachs for thousands of years.
- 1 kg Tomato – Riped and diced
- 200 g Red Pepper – diced
- 100 g Breadcrumbs
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
- 300 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Egg – boiled. Ignore this ingredient for a vegan version.
- 50 g Iberico ham – diced. Ignore this ingredient for a vegetarian version.
- Soak the breadcrumbs in water, ideally for a couple of hours or even better overnight. If you're in a rush, no worries... You still can make a salmorejo with bread crumbs soaked in water even if it's just for 5 minutes! It just won't be as good!
- Boil an egg and reserve.
- Dice the pepper and the tomatoes.
- Drain the bread crumbs thoroughly and blend together with the pepper, the tomatoes and the garlic.
- Add the vinegar, the salt and half the of the olive oil. Blend thoroughly and sieve to get a smooth creamy texture.
- Return the mix to the blender bowl and blend again whilst you keep adding the rest of the olive oil little by little. This way we'll get a really silky emulsion with a pretty amazing texture!
- Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.
- Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle some finely chopped boiled egg and ham on top of the salmorejo.
Some people prefer the salmorejo to be served chilled. To do that all you need to do is to put it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving it. But remember, the fridge alters the flavour of the blended tomato so remember to take it out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before you serve it.
The original salmorejo recipe doesn't include red pepper, so you don't need to add it if you don't want to. This is just a personal licence that I borrowed from the great Martín Berasategui and his fantastic salmorejo recipe. I personally like the kick of the red pepper when you eat it and as such, I decided to include it in this recipe.