Flamenco Vivo’s Laura Peralta Shares Her Andalusian Salmorejo With a Dominican Flair
As a New York City–based flamenco dancer, Laura Peralta makes regular pilgrimages to Spain to study the form for a few months at a time. After several hours of intense flamenco classes, her favorite thing to eat is salmorejo, a chilled tomato soup usually served with Iberian ham (jamón ibérico), crumbled hardboiled eggs, and short breadsticks called picos. Peralta, who dances for Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana as well as a number of other New York–based flamenco companies, often turns to cooking when she’s missing something—or someone. She started experimenting with her own version of salmorejo while her husband, Isaac Tovar, a fellow flamenco dancer who hails from Seville, was away on tour. “I wanted to make him something from home, so I tried it on my own and surprised him with it.”
Although Peralta is in love with Andalusian culture, her own roots are Afro-Dominican. She’s “Dominican-ized” her salmorejo by adding avocado (Peralta is largely vegetarian) and pairing it with maduros fritos—fried ripe plantains. “I always add my own Dominican take to every recipe,” she says. Usually this is in the way of spices, particularly adobo seasoning. “Sometimes I’ll call up my relatives to describe a recipe for any Dominican dish,” says Peralta, who likes making mangú tres golpes (a traditional Dominican breakfast) and a vegetarian take on pastelón de plátano maduro (a layered plantain dish). “It’s never very exact, but what I crave is very attached to my mood,” she says. “And it’s a nice way to connect to home.
“I can’t live without a podcast playing in my ear,” says Peralta of her cooking habits. “It helps calm me down.” Peralta usually seeks out anything that’s on National Public Radio. “I like listening to the Brian Lehrer Show every single day,” she says. “If I don’t catch it on time, I’ll just listen to it while I’m in the kitchen.”
“Cooking Equals Mess”
Peralta is a self-proclaimed neat freak and usually seeks out recipes that don’t make much of a mess. “I like salmorejo because it just uses a blender,” she says. “I tend to make a lot of salads, a lot of soups, things I can do in one pot or pan. I’m very practical.”
“The measurements are approximate, or, as we say at home, ‘ojo por ciento’ (eyeball percent),” says Peralta, who encourages cooks to taste and adjust as they go.
- 1.5 kilos (about 3 lbs) whole ripe tomatoes, stems removed (“I often use organic tomatoes on the vine for flavor, or heirloom tomatoes from my mom’s garden,” says Peralta.)
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (You can substitute this for a mixture of white, apple cider, or white wine vinegars.)
- 200 grams stale bread (Peralta likes to use a combination of Italian bread and sourdough. If your bread is fresh, you can toast it very slowly to dry it out, but avoid any browning or crunchiness.)
- 1/2 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- ripe avocado, cubed
- hardboiled eggs, crumbled
- Iberian ham, cubed (“If you can’t find Ibérico ham, you can use prosciutto cubes from any Italian market,” says Peralta.)
- drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Add the whole tomatoes to a high-powered blender or food processor and blend at high speed until they become a smooth, but still thick, purée.
- Add half of the salt and half of the vinegar and blend to mix.
- Tear the bread into small chunks and slowly push them into the tomato mixture with a long, wooden spoon. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Once the bread is saturated, blend again at high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Switch the blender to its lowest setting and, whil it’s running very slowly, stream in the olive oil to allow it to emulsify. The color should become a creamy reddish orange, not too vibrant.
- Once smooth, add the remaining vinegar and salt and mix again. If the salmorejo is too thick, you can add water to thin it out.
- Pour the salmorejo into a covered pitcher or jug, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight. (“I like to make a big batch and have it throughout the week,” says Peralta.)
- When you’re ready to eat it, pour the salmorejo into a bowl and garnish with crumbled boiled egg, cubed avocado or ham, and a drizzle of EVOO. Enjoy with a side of maduros fritos (fried ripe plantains). Leftovers can be used as a spread on bread when making a sandwich.