As we sail toward fall, there will still be some of the sunny, sticky days that are simply too hot to cook anything. The thought of standing over the stove or turning on the oven has none of the cozy connotations that it will in January. So now is the perfect time to make your dinner in a blender. It's time for gazpacho, with a fruity twist.
Go ahead and buy the big watermelon; you can use it in this cooling, colorful soup.
Watermelons are perfect for replacing the traditional tomatoes in gazpacho. In Barcelona, gazpacho is so beloved that it's sold in plastic cups in grocery stores and markets. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and olive oil, with a dash of sherry vinegar, go into gazpacho made the Catalan way. It's puréed until smooth, with nary a chunk to interrupt the sipping. But we are not in Spain, so we can fool around with tradition.
I used a red seedless watermelon, so I wouldn't have shiny black seeds to contend with. The melon's sweetness is balanced by a few bracing squeezes of fresh lime juice. Cucumber is absolutely required to pull off this non-tomato riff on gazpacho, and the juicy cuke mutes the sweetness just a bit. Green peppers have the vegetal, tart snap of summer, too. Sweet red onions remind you that this is a savory soup, with a little onion kick.
I like to leave about half of the veggies in chunks, and purée the rest. This is another departure from tradition, but it works. Juicy bits of melon and cucumber burst as you chew, and peppers and onions spark the palate. You'll need a spoon.
What really makes your gazpacho into a meal is the final garnish. Here, you have the option to sprinkle each bowl with feta crumbles or diced avocado, and with a simple hunk of crusty bread, you can call it dinner. As long as we are embellishing, a few chopped olives might provide salty contrast. Toasted almonds are another great addition, adding protein and some appealing crunch.
Watermelon is one of those foods that feels like a treat, but feeds you like a super food. It contains more lycopene than tomatoes, and an amino acid called citrulline, both of which promote heart health.
So blend up a bowl of watermelon gazpacho, and spoon up the sweet, end of summer goodness.
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of "Big Vegan," "The Whole Grain Promise" and "Great Bowls of Food." Find her at robinasbell.com.