Too often during the summer months, many of us find ourselves picking up fast food or eating out in an air-conditioned restaurant when the weather turns hot and nasty.
When my kids were growing up, I really didn’t have that option; I had to prepare a halfway nutritious meal in a kitchen that was steaming by noon. What I really wanted to do was tell them to just drink ice water — filling and refreshing!
Seriously, what we wanted was a meal that was ready to go when we were ready to eat. I would sometimes make potato salad and have olives, cheese, baguette slices, salami or ham as well as sliced, chilled fruit ready as a sort of an antipasto that allowed each of us to graze as our appetites dictated. Other times, a large dinner salad suited our scorched selves.
I still do these prepared-in-advance refrigerated buffets and have added the classic Gazpacho and Ceviche. Recently, I decided to combine the two; I have yet to find a gazpacho that calls for ceviche-type fish and/or seafood. What makes this so versatile is that you choose the seafood/fish combination that you like and everything is made in advance. Perfect for a picnic or bag lunch or even a starter for a backyard barbeque.
When using more than one type of seafood or fish, some can take up to four hours to completely “cook”, while others are ready after an hour and a half. Check by cutting into a piece of each after approximately 90 minutes or marinate each type separately in some of the total amount of citrus juice called for; being sure to cover with the liquid. Either method will ensure the perfect texture: not too firm; not too soft. Jalapeno chiles are listed in the gazpacho directions; I strongly recommend that you base the amount that you use not only on your personal heat tolerance but also by the heat of the onions. Remember, you can always add more.
¾ pound fish or shellfish; skin and bones or shells removed and cut into ½-inch cubes (leave smaller shrimp whole)
1/3 white onion; minced
1 ½ cup fresh citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange or a combination)
Combine all ingredients in large glass or stainless-steel bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until fish and/or seafood is opaque throughout when a piece is sliced open; 1 1/2 to 4 hours.
1 ½ to 2 cups bread crumbs (depending on desired consistency)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ English (hothouse) cucumber, unpeeled; cut into ¼-inch dice
2 sweet bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice (can use any color combination)
½ small red onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
3 jalapeno chiles, cored, seeded and finely chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped (optional but really good)
5 cups tomato juice
½ cup good olive oil (try one of the local citrus-flavored varieties)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into neat chunks
Combine bread crumbs and garlic; set aside.combine cucumber, bell peppers, jalapenos, red onion and tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour in tomato juice and stir to combine. Add bread crumb mixture and cilantro. Stir in the oil (At this point, you may puree’ half of this mixture in a blender and return to bowl or leave as is; your choice). Season with cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until cold. Just before serving, stir in the fish/seafood along with the citrus marinade and the avocado chunks. Drizzle small amount of additional olive oil on each serving and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired. Will keep for up to two days, covered and refrigerated.
8-10 portions, depending on serving size.
Lori Bowles was raised in Southern California. She is currently serving on the board of directors as the advertising and publicity chair for the Lodi Bowmen Inc. She lives in Lodi with her husband Jeff and has three children and five grandchildren. She enjoys cooking, reading about cooking and reading about cooking while eating.