19 March 2013

Ajo Blanco

Although I am not a vegetarian and definitely no vegan, I am mindful of what I eat and like to bring variety in my diet and sometimes this expresses itself in the form of a meatless dish.  So when I came across this monthly vegetarian challenge, I bookmarked it for later use.

I didn't plan on participating in the No Croutons Required March Challenge, hosted by Lisa's Kichen as the theme for this month was "Raw".  I immediately associate raw with sashimi, but this being a vegetarian challenge, any fish was obviously out of the question.

With animal derived products taken out of the equation, my only inspiration was a salad.  But when you look outside and see snow and ice, salads are not exactly the thing you long for to warm your belly with.  The challenge went on the backburner.

And then, I came across the book Manger cru (Eating raw) by Lynette Scott-Aiken and thought that maybe it was a sign that I had to participate after all.  Perusing the pages of this book (which as the cover indicates contains only meatless and no cooking recipes), I came across a recipe for Ajo Blanco.

Ajo Blanco is a cold soup from Andalucia, Spain and is sometimes called the little white brother of the renowned gaspacho.  I had been meaning to give it a try and had some recipes pinned with this in mind, but most of them required some cooking, excluding them for this challenge.  I'll probably try these later on, but for the moment being, this raw version (from the Manger Cru book) is what you'll get.

For the menu suggestion requested by Lisa, I would recommend staying in a Spanish ambiance and having this cold soup as an appetizer or starter before diving into a vegetarian paella (like the one found on the DK Challenge Sheet from last September) and round of the meal, either the Spanish way i.e. with a piece of fruit or the sweettooth way, with a delicous crema catalana.

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

* 125 g whole almonds, soaked overnight in water and then peeled
* 440 ml  almond milk (°)
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 500 ml water
* 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
* 6 Tbsp virgin olive oil (+ extra for serving) 
* salt & pepper
* 40 (seedless) white grapes
* 2 Tbsp chopped chives

(°) Because my blender isn't powerful enough, I went for the easy option and used storebought almond milk.  However, if you want to make it from scratch, you just have to mix peeled almonds with lukewarn water and a pinch of salt (60g/0.5 cup of whole almonds soaked overnight in water and peeled for every 0.5 liter / 2 cups of water)


Mix the almonds and almond milk in a blender, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, pour the mixture into the blender again, add the garlic cloves and water and mix everything until you have a smooth liquid.   Add the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and mix again.

Cover and set aside in the fridge until it is completely cold.

Meanwhile peel and cut the grapes in half.  Pour the soup into cold bowls, sprinkle with the chopped chives and garnish with the white grapes.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and serve immediately.

If all the almonds haven't been ground finely enough and the soup is still a bit lumpy, you can sieve it just after blending the water and garlic (which is what I had to do).  It is however of utmost importance to use prime quality olive oil and sherry vinegar.


  1. That is just gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing with NCR and I love your menu selection.

  2. Funny how we get drawn into blogging events, eh? I love the challenge of putting new ingredients together. Sounds like a fun cookbook, you found, too. :)