With summer comes gazpacho, a hauntingly delicious mix of summer aromas originating from Andalucía. After hibernating during the winter, this chilled soup is back to life with the first hot day of summer. When it’s hot and humid and you fear raising the temperature of your house simply by firing up the stove, gazpacho is the perfect solution. This classic, yet amazingly easy world cuisine is not only brimming with summer flavors and refreshing, but it’s also quite healthy and full of antioxidants. What more can a cook wish for?
Gazpachos come in all colors and tastes but since watermelon is widely available all summer long in Korea, a watermelon gazpacho is quite fitting.
Gazpachos come in all colors and tastes but since watermelon is widely available all summer long in Korea, a watermelon gazpacho is quite fitting. I know it might sound strange at first, but give it a try. You’ll be happy to discover how nicely the flavors are balanced, eloquently sweet and delicately perfumed.
Look for a watermelon that is dull and not shiny, smooth and uniform in shape. Search the fruit for the cream-colored field patch, the spot where the fruit laid on the ground. The darker the patch, the better; it means the fruit grew into maturity on the field. Pick it up. It should feel heavier than it looks. Compare it with other watermelons of the same size and pick the heaviest one. It should be ripe for cooking.
Makes four servings
4–5 cups watermelon, coarsely chopped (if you are worried it might be too sweet, start with 4 cups, and add to taste later)
5 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly cut into 2.5 cm cubes (about 1 inch)
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and roughly cut into 2.5 cm cubes
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and roughly cut into 2.5 cm cubes
1 small cucumber, peeled and roughly cut into 2.5 cm cubes
1 green Korean hot pepper, coarsely chopped
¼ cup red onion, roughly cut into 2.5 cm cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 tablespoon of good quality sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar (choose a balsamic vinegar that’s not too sweet since the watermelon is already a natural sweetener)
½ cup of good extra virgin olive oil (look for “1st cold pressed” on the label, which indicates the best quality)
2 teaspoon chipotle sauce (optional)
Feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
Homemade garlic croutons (see directions below)
Try pairing the gazpacho with unoaked, just off-dry, fruity, young whites or sparkling wine.
Use a food processor to purée the watermelon until it is smooth. Pass the watermelon purée through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing down the flesh and juice with the back of a spoon until you are left with the seeds. Discard the seeds.
Place a small amount of vegetable in your food processor (the “small amount” is important to achieve even chopping size) and pulse for a few seconds, using a spatula to redistribute the vegetables evenly. Repeat the operation until all vegetables are chopped to a pea size. Transfer the vegetables to the large bowl with the watermelon puree. Add the minced garlic to the watermelon mixture. Heat a skillet over medium heat and toast the almonds until nice and gold (no oil is required). Let cool, and reserve ½ cup of the toasted almonds for the garnish. Grind the remaining ½ cup of almonds in the food processor. Toss ground almonds with the watermelon mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and season with sea salt. Chill the gazpacho for at least one hour but ideally 3-4 hours before serving.
Homemade Garlic Croutons | Mince 1–2 garlic cloves and set aside. Take 2 slices of bread, cut the crust out and cut into 2 cm cubes. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and when the oil is hot but not burning (olive oil is sensitive to heat and will become saturated if overheated) add the garlic, sauté 3–4 seconds then add the bread, swirl the bread around making sure it gets coated with the olive oil and garlic, season with sea salt and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Add a bit of olive oil if necessary.
To serve, place two ladles of gazpacho into individual bowls, add some homemade croutons, feta cheese and top with toasted almonds. Try pairing with unoaked, just off-dry, fruity, young whites or sparkling wine.