Saturday, June 03, 2006

Watermelon Gazpacho

I really love gazpacho, because it's a fantastic summer soup. Made to be prepared in advance and eaten cold, it can be subject to many varitions, though my favorite way to make it is spicy.
Rather than going on about gazpacho in general, I'll get down to the watermelon part, since that is what makes this recipe unusual.
To put it simply, this recipe uses watermelon instead of the tomato base that forms most gazpachos. It gives the final dish a light, sweet taste and makes for a tangy contrast with the balsamic vinegar that I added to it. It's very simple and tasty - definitely something that I'll be making again this summer.
There were only a few problems that I had with the recipe, the original version of which was originally published in EatingWell. First, I had a hard time finding a 6-pound watermelon. My watermelon was one of the smallest at the market (except for the mini-melons) and it weighed 14 pounds. I just used half. Second, I didn't like the way that the recipe called for everthing to be diced before it went into the food processor. It was done so a bit of the diced mixture could be reserved for garnish, but it seemed really unnecessary to "finely dice" everything. The final "problem" was a simple change: I wanted the soup to be a tad spicier, I added some jalapeno pepper. I also added quite a bit more salt, but this was in part becase I had much more soup that the recipe directed originally.
Make sure to wash all your veggies thoroughly, so you don't end up with any off tastes in the final soup.

Watermelon Gazpacho
(adapted from EatingWell)
8-10 cups chopped seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds with the rind)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp chopped jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp minced shallot
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
for garnish: 1 cup watermelon, dinely ficed; 1/4 cup cucumber, finely diced

Working in two batches, puree all ingredients in a food processor (except garnish) and pulse until smooth. Pour into a large serving bowl. Stir in the remaining diced mixture and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight, until cold.

Serves 6-8