Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Watermelon Gazpacho Dinner (No Added Fat)

I don't typically gravitate toward cold summer gazpacho soups, but my wife likes them and we both loved the gazpacho we had some years ago at a French restaurant in Key West, Cafe Solé. I had cut a watermelon today and thought of using part of it as a base for just such a soup; I found a recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho online that sounded good, and used that as a base to help me formulate my own recipe.

The recipe that I found called for finely dicing 8 cups of watermelon, finely dicing a seeded and peeled cucumber, finely dicing half of a bell pepper, chopping a quarter cup each of basil and parsley, and mixing this all in a bowl with 3T vinegar, 2T minced shallot, 2T oil, and 3/4 t salt. Most of the mixture is pureed then all is mixed again and served cold or at room temperature.

I liked this idea, but didn't want to use oil (and don't see the purpose, really). My family is not a fan of vinegar, and I should have left it out, but I did use about half as much as the recipe called for. I also wanted a chunkier soup. Here is what I did.

  • Four or five cups of seedless watermelon, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
  • Medium cucumber, peeled
  • 1/8 Sweet (or yellow) onion, cut into fine 1/8" cubes
  • 1/4 Bell pepper, cut into 3/8" cubes
  • 2-4 ounces of tomato sauce (to taste; try less initially to get the tomato as an undertone, but use more if you want a more pronounced tomato flavor)
  • Juice of half lime (or lemon)
  • (Optional) 1T champagne, apple cider, or red wine vinegar
  • (Optional) 1/8 Jalapeno pepper
  • Herbs to taste - I recommend 1/4 t dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • (Optional) Small handful fresh cilantro or parsley, washed and coarsely chopped
  1. Add the watermelon to a large bowl.
  2. Peel the cucumber, remove and compost or discard about an inch from both ends, and cut in half lengthwise. The seeds can now be easily scooped out - I actually like them and enjoy them as a snack while I'm cooking and they can be left in, but try removing the seeds. Cut the cucumber into small pieces maybe 1/4" wide x 1/2" long, and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the onion, bell pepper, and tomato sauce to the bowl and mix.
  4. Transfer about 60% of the ingredients to a blender. Add to the blender the lime or lemon juice and, if being used, vinegar and/or jalapeno pepper.
  5. Blend on low or medium briefly, aiming for a slurry that is mostly liquid but with definite chunks of size perhaps 1/8" or so.
  6. Mix the blended ingredients into the bowl with the other 40% of the ingredients, then hand mix in herbs, salt, and black pepper.
  7. Serve with optional parsley or cilantro sprinkled on top; it is good either chilled or at a cool room temperature.

Wow, this was good! Not only did my wife and I love it, but my daughter asked for it the next day and even my Dad, who can't chew and usually may not try something so "different", liked it. It's a winner and I think will likely be something that I make periodically in the summer. It's easy, tasty, and nutritious with a lot of lycopene and fiber! I served the soup with some leftover kichidi (rice and lentil porridge) that my wife had made earlier in the day, as well as with some radish.

Ideas for the future

Because our family doesn't like vinegar, I'll make this next time without. I think that a little celery, cut into 1/4" or 1/8" cubes, would be a nice addition, as well as celery seed (I used to use this all the time right out of college, but in recent years seem to have forgotten about it!). My Dad doesn't eat garlic, but some coarsely chopped (maybe to 1/8" cubes) garlic would have been good in the initial mix in step 3.


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