Watermelon Gazpacho (and a cry for help)

14 Aug

Have you ever tried a lovely new recipe that is almost -, just short of-, achingly close to- perfect, but that you know needs a spike, a dash or a splash of something, but you can’t quite figure out what it is?

Well that’s what is happening with this Watermelon Gazpacho.

As is, it is a cool and refreshing welcome cross between a soup and a sorbet with which to greet guests. In Puerto Rico, some restaurants bring you a complimentary shot of fish soup or chicken soup to relax you while you read your menu options. At a recent poolside birthday party I attended here on Long Island, a server carried round trays of long elegant shot glasses of tomato gazpacho as part of the hors d’oeuvres and they were delicious starters. This watermelon gazpacho is a sweeter version of the same idea. It is gorgeous in its summer pinkness, accented by green mint or lime. My book club friends liked it a lot, as did my colleagues the following day when I tried it out on them.

However, I can’t help feeling like it needs something zingy to really complete it. I didn’t want to blend a spicy element in; I feel that is needs more side-by-side contrast. One suggestion was a drizzle of seasoned chile oil, so I have included that option here. It may be as simple as a pretty curl of green chile pepper or a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes and I will try that soon too. The original recipe, from Vegetarian Times, calls for verjus rather than vinegar, but I didn’t have any, so perhaps that is the missing element?

So, even as this recipe gives a truly lovely result in its current incarnation, and I encourage you to give it a try, I am asking your help in making it perfect. Let me know before the watermelon season is over!

Tips on selecting watermelons below.

Watermelon Gazpacho

2 lbs watermelon flesh, rind and seeds removed and chopped (approximately 6 cups)*

1 clove garlic, peeled

¼ medium red onion, peeled and chopped (about 1/4 cup)

½ medium cucumber, peeled and seeded (about ½ cup)

¼ medium red bell pepper, chopped (about ¼ cup)

1 inch thick slice day-old bread, any real hard crust removed

2 Tbs red wine vinegar (you may want to add more to your taste; do it 1 Tbs at a time)

2 Tbs fresh lime juice

Kosher or sea salt to taste

2-4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

(optional: hot pepper/chile oil for drizzling; hot pepper flakes for sprinkling?)

Mint leaves for garnish

In the food processor or blender, add all ingredients except olive oil, salt and mint. Puree until smooth (or relatively smooth; I like the tiniest bit of chunkiness myself). Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil (about 2 Tbs) and season with salt. Serve cold, garnished with mint and drizzled or sprinkled with something spicy.

*The sweeter the watermelon, the sweeter the gazpacho. To buy a perfect whole watermelon, look for an even shape that would indicate even ripening. You DO want there to be a yellow mark somewhere on the green rind; that yellowed spot indicates the place the watermelon sat, getting field-ripened and sweet, instead of being picked too early to develop. Then listen to the fruit. A couple of raps on it with your knuckle should produce a hollow knock, not a dull thick thud.


2 Responses to “Watermelon Gazpacho (and a cry for help)”

  1. Sadie December 8, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Jicama! This sweet crunchy food is the perfect compliment to watermelon gazpacho, cut it into cubes or shave some on top. Now, I can’t make it without it.

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