Watermelon meets the fruits and flavors of the Southwest in this refreshing summer soup. This melding of summer flavors started centuries ago when plants of the Old World and the New World melded in the Columbian Exchange. And all this – just in time for Forth of July!
We mentioned the Columbian Exchange in our post on Fennel & Strawberry Salad in June. Watermelon was another highly popular introduction to the Southwest, and various Native tribes quickly selected for plants that would grow well in their corner of the region. They also selected for characteristics they appreciated – like yellow fruit. For more about Southwest cultivars of watermelon (once from Africa), see Native Seeds/SEARCH.
Gazpacho is a cold soup made of raw, blended vegetables. It is considered a classic of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. There are many theories as to the origin of gazpacho, including one that says it is a soup of bread, olive oil, water, vinegar and garlic that arrived in Spain and Portugal with the Romans. During the 19th century, red gazpacho was created when tomatoes were added to the ingredients. This version spread internationally, and remains the most commonly known.
Red Gazpacho is best known maybe – but here is one that might change your mind about best tasting! And look – another way to use basil that we didn’t know about when we wrote our post on the topic.
1 small watermelon seeded and diced, about 6 cups
4 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, finely diced
1 lime for: 1/2 teaspoon lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice
2 jalepeno or serrano peppers, seeded and finely diced (omit if desired)
2 tablespoons sweet basil finely chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of salt
Mix together just 4 cups of the watermelon, the tomatoes, and the onion.
Add lime zest and juice, chili pepper, and chopped basil.
Press remaining 2 cups of watermelon through a food mill or puree in a food processor. Pour the result through a fine strainer to make the watermelon juice. Add honey to the juice and stir well to dissolve. Add the juice to the vegetables. Feed the solids to the cook – or the chickens.
Season this vegetable blend to taste with the vinegar and salt. Salt is needed to bring out the flavors in the tomato, but if you are on a low sodium diet you can omit. The honey makes the watermelon flavor pop. You’re looking for a good fruity, vegetal balance.
Chef Jonathan Bardzik explains “Gazpacho should have enough liquid to be a soup and not just feel like watery salsa. To punch up the watermelon flavor in this soup I juice some watermelon and use that for the extra liquid. Watermelons are 92 percent water, so there will not be very many solids left behind.”
He adds, “If you do not have a food mill, you can puree the watermelon in a blender or food processor and strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve.”
This recipe was provided as an education/inspirational service of All-America Selections (AAS). We thank them for sharing! Let us invite you to view the You-Tube video of chef Jonathan Bardzik creating this watermelon gazpacho for AAS. Soon we hope to have more You-Tube videos of our own up on our channel. We especially thank AAS as our editor is recovering from a bit of unplanned major surgery.
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More ways to use honey in – Using Honey in New & Savory Ways by two of our writers – Jacqueline Soule and Monica King. This link is to Amazon. The local Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you, if you buy the book there.
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