By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
Two of the foods I associate most with summer are tomatoes and watermelon. Eating either on a warm summer day is the ultimate treat.
Now that tomatoes are in peak season I wanted to create a delicious cold summer soup that can be enjoyed during the heat of summer. Not to mention that it involves no cooking! I hope you enjoy!
Why not combine the two to make a delicious watermelon and tomato gazpacho? It is so simple that it can be made in 15 minute or less (if you are lazy like me and buy pre-cut watermelon). I recommend using heirloom tomatoes that can be purchased at the farmer’s market because they are the most flavorful and you are also supporting our local New Jersey farmers, not to mention they are usually the most reasonably priced.
Gazpacho is a cold soup that can be served either before or after a meal. It would be an excellent addition to any barbecue menu because the light, fresh, brightness of it counters high fat, rich foods with its balanced acidity and intense flavor. This gazpacho is a combination of sweet and savory, which makes it all the more interesting to me. It is all about balance. The watermelon provides a hint of sweetness but also has some meatiness so that the soup is very texturally pleasing.
On the other hand, the tomatoes provide a savory, umami flavor that enhances that sweetness and its own unique flavor profile. I then garnish it with a quick cilantro salad for color and herbaceous flavor. If you do not like cilantro, I would say basil is the best alternative.
This is one of my go-to recipes because of its ease, simplicity and consistent quality. I will even eat it for breakfast! It is easily altered to use any sort of ingredient you could want in a pinch. I also like it because you can use less aesthetically pleasing tomatoes.
As always we want to hear from you. Tell us how yours turned out, and how you changed it!
- 2 pounds of cut, ripe watermelon.
- 1 pound of heirloom tomatoes, cored and roughly diced (be sure to not lose too much of the tomato water; this is where most of the flavor is).
- ½ bunch of cilantro. Cut off the very bottom of the stems and discard. Cut the next inch of the stems and set aside for the soup. Reserve the leaves for the cilantro salad.
- 6 scallions. We are only using the white parts for the soup because they have the mildest flavor and won’t impact the color.
- ½ of a serrano chili (optional, if you like spice).
- Juice of three limes, with 1 teaspoon set aside for the salad.
- High quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Toasted sesame seeds.
1) Combine watermelon, tomatoes, cilantro stems, scallion whites, serrano chili, lime juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender.
2) Blend until smooth, adjust the seasoning to taste. You may also need to add more lime juice if it tastes too sweet.
3) Keep the gazpacho covered in the blender bowl (this will make it easier to serve by pouring it out of the bowl). Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.
4) For the cilantro salad, put the cilantro leaves in a small bowl, add a splash of olive oil, the teaspoon of lime juice, toasted sesame seeds, and the salt and pepper to taste.
5) Combine until the leaves are coated. Let the salad sit for a minute for the flavors to macerate.
6) To serve, pour the gazpacho into bowls, garnish with some additional extra virgin olive oil and a healthy pinch of the cilantro salad. You can also serve this with a crusty bread that will be amazing to scoop up the soup.
In ‘Recipe of the Month’ food writer Steven DeSalvo shares a recipe Montclairites might enjoy making. DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels. If there is something you want to know how to make, or you’ve eaten a dish at a local restaurant you are dying to make at home, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.