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QUICK FIX

Ice and Spice

May 14, 1997|CHARITY FERREIRA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For some, chilled vegetable soups hark back to vichyssoise and the spa cuisine of the '70s. For others, soups like this cool, pale green gazpacho, flecked with chiles and red onions, are the wave of the future.

Seedless green grapes are a surprising and nearly undetectable ingredient that give the soup a subtle sweetness that brings out the flavor of the cucumbers and balances the heat of the chiles.

Chipotles--which are dried, smoked jalapen~os--add spice and smoky depth to tiny tender bay shrimp and mild Jack cheese in the quesadilla.

Serve seasonal fruit for dessert.

Menu (30 MINUTES OR LESS)

Cold Cucumber Soup (Cucumber Gazpacho)

Spicy Shrimp Quesadillas

Countdown

30 minutes before: Peel and seed cucumbers; mince chiles and onion; chop cilantro; slice green onions; squeeze lime juice.

20 minutes before: Puree grapes and 2 cucumbers; dice remaining cucumbers; combine soup ingredients and refrigerate.

15 minutes before: Grate cheese; assemble quesadillas.

10 minutes before: Cook quesadillas.

INGREDIENTS

Shopping List

1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese

2 small serrano or jalapen~o chiles

1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

1 bunch cilantro

5 cucumbers (about 1 pound each)

1/2 pound green seedless grapes

2 limes

1 red onion

1 bunch green onions

1/2 pound precooked bay shrimp

1 (10-count) package large flour tortillas

Staples

Champagne or white wine vinegar

Pepper

Salt

Sugar

Vegetable oil

CUCUMBER GAZPACHO (VEGETARIAN; LOW-FAT COOKING)

The soup has a much nicer texture if made in a blender rather than in a food processor.

5 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded

1/2 pound green seedless grapes

2 ice cubes

1/2 red onion, minced

2 small serranos or jalapen~os, seeded and minced

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar

Salt, pepper

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

Puree 2 cucumbers and grapes in blender with ice cubes and pour into bowl.

Dice remaining cucumbers. Add cucumbers, onion, chiles and cilantro to puree in bowl. Add lime juice, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and sugar if needed for flavor. Refrigerate while preparing quesadillas.

4 servings. Each serving:

104 calories; 83 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 2.86 grams fiber.

SPICY SHRIMP QUESADILLAS

Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are sold canned in the Latino section of most supermarkets.

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

4 flour tortillas

3/4 cup grated Monterey jack cheese

2 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced

1/2 pound precooked bay shrimp

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Puree chipotle in blender or with mortar and pestle.

Brush 1 side of each tortilla lightly with chipotle puree. Sprinkle with cheese, green onions and bay shrimp and fold in half.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Cook quesadillas, 2 at a time, until tortillas are golden brown on each side and cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges.

4 servings. Each serving:

291 calories; 449 mg sodium; 134 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams protein; 2.02 grams fiber.

* Dalzell Viking frosted glass plates from Bristol Kitchens, South Pasadena.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Shortcut

Instead of taking the extra time to thoroughly chill the finished soup, say an hour or two, chill all the ingredients beforehand and just add an ice cube or two to the blender when pureeing.

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