A refreshing gazpacho recipe with green tomatoes and avocado

You might recognize Ariel Fox from reality TV stardom, cooking for celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and winning season 18 of Hell’s Kitchen. But when she’s not a Food Network judge or menu captain at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, the chef is reimagining the Latin and Caribbean cuisine she grew up eating and turning those culinary musings into an upcoming cookbook, spice cookingwhich debuts on August 23.

“There was a big part of my life where I didn’t embrace this food,” Fox says. “I’ve been doing this for 22 years and fighting in kitchens, and I’ve been trained in French and Italian, but I really want people to not be afraid to teach our next generation kids to really embrace the foods of your heritage.”

In spice cooking, Fox does just that. Her recipes offer healthier versions of the dishes she ate growing up without skimping on the bold, heady flavors of Latin and Caribbean cuisine. But she doesn’t just dip into her childhood memories. Throughout the cookbook, Fox leads each recipe with a brief anecdote.

Her green gazpacho — in which avocado, charred scallions and shiny tomatillos melt into a smoky soup — brings Fox and her husband back to Tulum, Mexico.

“The first time we went to Tulum, all the sauces had some sort of fire-roasted element,” Fox recalls. “Everything was so smoky because they were cooking everything on a wood grill in Tulum… When I came back from that first trip, all I could think about was cooking everything over the fire for a while.”

While this recipe brings up taste memories for Fox, she says that’s not the end of green gazpacho recipes. Indeed, she encourages spice lovers to add more heat if they wish by experimenting with different or more chili peppers. “You must feel it too,” she said. “In the whole book in general, I just want people to use it as a starting point.”

For her, she likes “smoky versus nutty versus creamy avocado,” instead of real cream.

And, no, you don’t need to light a campfire on the beach to get the deep, charred flavors of this gazpacho. If you don’t have a high heat to work with or even a gas stove, Fox says fear not: “Honestly, you could grill tomatillos, you could grill scallions on an electric stove.”

Michael M. Tomlin