I’m convinced seeded watermelon is better than seedless, but boy does a 20 pound watermelon seem to last forever! After a few days of feeding my family big bowls of a super sweet local seeded watermelon and my Chilled Watermelon Chop Salad, half of a watermelon was still in the refrigerator this morning demanding my attention.
With 90+ degree weather predicted for the foreseeable future, a refreshing watermelon gazpacho came to mind for many reasons. It’s no-cook, cold, tomato based, spicy and has lots of healthy raw vegetables. Inspiration came directly from the Chilled Watermelon Chop Salad sitting next to the half eaten watermelon. If pureed, the salad would make a passable gazpacho. Of course the Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho is more ideal because the recipe has been fine tuned to balance the taste, texture and sensibility of a gazpacho.
Gazpacho is not typically meant to be pureed beyond recognition. To ensure the right texture, only 1/3 of the watermelon and vegetables are pureed to make the soup base then added back to the rest of the ingredients. The finished soup is a finely textured essence of summer with a complex mixture of sweet, sour, salty, herby and spicy flavors.
When I recently asked if they had any watermelon picking tips at Rosebank Farms, my favorite vacation farm stand, I was told the best watermelon still had a stem as well as the small dried brown tendril where the watermelon attaches to the stem. Watermelon doesn’t ripen after picked like many fruits do so it’s important to pick an already ripe one. I also learned keeping watermelon at room temperature until cut ensures sweetness.
This flexible recipe is my go-to variation for summer parties because it can be made ahead of time and naturally accommodates many common diets including vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carb and paleo. At the end of the recipe I’ve also included flavor options to play around with.
Watermelon Cucumber Gazpacho with Basil and Lime
3 cup watermelon
1 cup tomato
1 cup cucumber
½ cup red pepper
½ cup red onion
¼ cup basil leaves, chiffonade (about 5 leaves stacked, rolled and cut into ¼” slivers)
2 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
1 small garlic clove (about ½ tsp) minced
3 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Cut watermelon, tomato, cucumber, red pepper and red onion into
¼” dice. Puree 2 cups of diced watermelon and vegetable mixture in blender until liquefied.
- In a large bowl, mix remaining diced watermelon and vegetable mixture with basil, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Add liquefied watermelon vegetable mixture and mix gently.
- Season with additional salt, pepper, and vinegar as needed
- Chill before serving
Watermelon Gazpacho Flavor Options
- Omit red onions and add ½ cup scallions, Vidalia onions, or other kind of onion
- Omit basil and add ¼ cup cilantro, dill, chives, mint, parsley or a combination of herbs you like
- Omit jalapeno pepper and add a dash of tabasco
- Omit lime juice and add 3 Tbs lemon juice
- Omit red wine vinegar and add 2 Tbs sherry or rice vinegar
- Add a ½ cup quartered grapes
- Add ½ cup diced apple
- Add ¼ cup diced celery
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds
- Add ¼ cup cranberry juice
- Add 1 tsp minced ginger