Green Gazpacho Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Mongongo Nuts

One of my most important considerations when developing recipes in the Upper Zambezi Valley is the weather. For nine months of the year it’s hot, with October being the hottest month of all. It’s the hottest and the driest. Suicide month, as some people call it. Here, right now, we long to smell THAT smell, petrichor. We long for our first drenching of rain. We long to wake up to a cool, wet dawn.

… “Oh, the stinging tsetse flies and the crocodile’s eyes,
This is no place to dally.
For there’s no food here and I thirst for beer,
In the hot Zambezi Valley.” …

Garden manager, Peter Komanyana (right), and his assistant, Richwell Nduba.

There is a great deal of food here, as it turns out, because we grow and nurture our own organic vegetable garden. And it’s at its best in October, when the heat ramps up and before the heavy rains set in, bringing with them insects and disease. It’s in my garden in which I dream up dishes I know will counter this heat. It’s the garden that always teases my imagination. It’s where I go first. It’s where I go last. It’s my beginning, it’s my end.

Mixed leaves and flowers in the raised beds, all of which ended up in my green gazpacho.
Spicy mix leaves.
I introduced tomatillos in my garden this year, and they are thriving!

Cool and wet. Nothing quite does cool and wet like a cold soup, served on a hot day, made with fresh ingredients picked from your own garden. And nothing quite does cold soups like a gazpacho. Gazpacho. That piquant, punchy Andalusian soup originally brought to Spain by the Romans. I read here that  “the Roman legions [carried] bread, garlic, salt, olive oil and vinegar along the roads of the Empire, with each soldier making his own mixture to taste.”

And that’s the thing. Most people think gazpacho is made with tomatoes, when tomatoes were an addition only after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. To start with, the aforesaid Roman ingredients were mixed with water, before the Spanish had the idea of adding raw vegetables to enhance the soup’s flavor.

Japanese komatsuna leaves.
Flat-leafed parsley.
A viola pokes its head out among the Swiss Chard.

The original green gazpacho recipe I used was Yotam Ottolenghi’s. I have since modified it to suit what grows well here, leaving out ingredients that I think overpower the flavor. I then had the idea of creating a small salad in the center of the soup to showcase  all the ingredients I used to make it. I served my Green Gazpacho Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Mongongo Nuts for the first time last week at The Elephant Café to a group of guests visiting, funnily enough, from Spain, Italy and France. They loved it.

The Green Gazpacho Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Mongongo Nuts is super-healthy, filling, and flavorful. It can be made in large batches and frozen, if you leave out the yoghurt and then add it later. It’s also a terrific way of avoiding waste in your garden.

An onion flower which I used as a garnish.
Spinach leaves.
Lots and lots of leaves to choose from for a gazpacho.

Green Gazpacho Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Mongongo Nuts

Yield: 8-10 servings

Notes: try and use young leaves if you want to avoid a bitter taste in the soup. Remember, there is a lot of preparation of fresh ingredients in the making of this soup that can be done in advance. Give yourself time.

 Ingredients:

For the soup

  • 3 celery sticks (including the leaves)
  • 3 cucumbers, peeled
  • 3 slices stale white ciabatta, crusts removed
  • 1 fresh green chilli, roughly chopped (remove some of the seeds if very hot)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 tomatillos
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup mongongo nuts, dry-roasted (*substitute with walnuts or pecan nuts)
  • ½ cup pecan nuts/walnuts, dry-roasted
  • 3 cups baby dark green leaves (Swiss chard, beetroot, baby spinach, etc.)
  • 3 cups soft young lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ¼ cup olive oil
  • 250ml Greek yoghurt, divided 1 + 1
  • about 450ml water
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste


For the salad

  • 1 celery stick, sliced width-ways neatly
  • ½ cucumber, chopped into small squares
  • 3 tomatillos (optional), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon mongongo nuts, dry-roasted and chopped (*substitute with walnuts or pecan nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons pecan nuts/walnuts, dry-roasted and chopped
  • 3 cups baby dark green leaves (Swiss chard, beetroot, baby spinach, etc.)
  • 3 cups soft young lettuce leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup basil leaves, removed from the stalks and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped


For the salad dressing

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper, to taste


To garnish

  • ½ cup mongongo nuts, dry-roasted and roughly chopped (*substitute with walnuts or pecan nuts)
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds, dry roasted
  • 2 small spring onions, green end only, finely sliced
  • edible flowers of your choice (I use violas and onion flowers)


Method:

  • Roughly chop up the celery, cucumbers, bread, chilli, tomatillos and garlic. Place in a blender and add the sugar, nuts, mixed greens, lettuce, basil, parsley, vinegar, oil, half the yoghurt, most of the water, the ice cubes, the salt and some pepper. Blitz the soup until smooth. Add more water, if needed, to get your preferred consistency. Taste the soup, season with salt and pepper, and adjust accordingly. Set aside and chill until ready to use.
  • Carefully combine the salad ingredients, setting aside a small amount of pumpkin seeds and mongongo nuts for garnishing. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
  • Make the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar, sealing, and shaking well. Lightly dress the salad ingredients and set everything aside until ready to use.
  • To plate: use one ladle of chilled soup per plate. With tongs or your hands, carefully build a small salad in the center of the soup. Garnish with dots of Greek yoghurt around the salad, as well as a sprinkling of mongongo nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds and spring onions. Top with edible flowers, and serve with warm ciabatta bread.

 

Green Gazpacho Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Mongongo Nuts.

Annabel Hughes is an award-winning chef and blogger, and the creator of “bush gourmet” cuisine.

2 Comments

  • Yum looks really fab

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Mike P in the Whitsundays! Lucky you! I hope you’re having a terrific time … 🙂

      Reply

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