“Polyphenols and carotenoids are your skin and blood vessels’ best friends and this simple dish is packed with these wonderful plant nutrients. Plus it is ideal as a refreshing lunch on a hot summer day”, says LipoTherapeia’s nutritionist and natural skincare expert Georgios Tzenichristos, who suggests cool ‘Gazpacho, black rice and basil’ as the perfect lunchtime dish this hot summer.
Gazpacho is a cool summer salad-soup originating in Spain, while black rice is a hybrid Italian/Thai rice originating in Italy.
The combination brings together the refreshing fragrant goodness of tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers, the rich-tasting aromatic complex carbs of black rice and the sweet-scented essential oils of basil.
“Nutritionally speaking, this meal brings on the table carotenoids from tomatoes and polyphenols from black rice – the two most important classes of plant nutrients for blood vessels, skin wellness and overall good health. Plus lots of fibre and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of basil.
“These are the kind of meals I recommend to my clients for healthy, firm, smooth skin on the legs or everywhere else on the body: rich in plant chemicals/fibre, low in glycaemic index and moderate in calories.”, Georgios says.
Coming from Greece Georgios appreciates the Mediterranean diet, especially refreshing summer meals on a hot day. “Although not Greek, this mix of Spanish and Italian goodness, ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to enjoying a fresh summer meal or a healthy food to suggest to my clients.”
With a glycaemic index of 42 (as opposed to 89 for white rice and 50 for brown rice) and with lots of fibre and proanthocyanidins, black rice is the king of carbs – nutritionally speaking.
Tomatoes and red peppers in gazpacho are packed with the carotenoid lycopene; extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is bursting with the polyphenols hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein and oleocanthal (predictably Georgios prefers the Greek Koroneiki variety, which is known for its high antioxidant content); and garlic in the recipe enhances the release of nitric oxide that helps keep arteries healthy.
Taste-wise, the sweetness of ripe tomatoes and red peppers mixes with the herbal notes of the EVOO and the gentle acidity of red wine vinegar, while black rice adds a grounding, earthy note to the volatile aromas of the herbs and vegetables.
Enjoy with iced green tea, for more antioxidant goodness (courtesy of the polyphenol EGCG in green tea). Or with a chilled glass of Provence rosé, to add a touch of France to the mix.
This multi-coloured pot of cool soup is perfect to impress your guests before the garden party’s main course – and with very little effort too: Gazpacho is ready in no time, while black rice only takes 40′ to boil.
You can always accompany with beans on the side as a source of protein (or grilled sardines / tuna / salmon for protein and omega-3 goodness for non-vegans).
- 1kg (very red) tomatoes
- 2 red peppers
- 1 cucumber
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 30ml red wine vinegar (can be white wine, cider or sherry – but never spirit or malt vinegar)
- Salt (own preference)
- Dice the tomatoes and peppers
- Peel and dice the cucumber
- Crush the garlic cloves
- Add the above, the olive oil, vinegar and salt into a food processor and blend until you create a not-too-coarse, not-too-smooth soup.
Black Rice preparation
Put one cup of black rice and four cups of water in a pot, cover and cook until all water is absorbed (water needed may vary, depending on cooking utensil / temperature). Do not stir until it’s ready. Lower heat just before all water evaporates.
Pour the soup into bowls and add the black rice in the centre of each bowl or mix it with the soup, as in the picture. Refrigerate to serve cool – but not too cold – and add basil leaves on top just before serving.
Accompany with beans on the side as a source of protein – or grilled sardines/tuna/salmon for protein and some omega-3 goodness for the non-vegans.