Two of my favorite foods to consume in the summer, when I don’t feel like actually cooking anything or eating anything remotely hot, are watermelon and gazpacho. So, what better way is there for me to celebrate my two favorite summertime foods, than to make one with the other! This watermelon gazpacho doesn’t veer far from the original tomato-based version, but let me tell you, the watermelon adds a vibrancy and sweetness to this chilled soup that will have you wondering why tomatoes were ever used in the first place.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Watermelon – It goes without saying that watermelon is the star of the show. These recipes each use about ⅛ of a large watermelon, but they can easily be doubled, tripled, or halved depending on how much watermelon you’ve got. In terms of choosing the best watermelon, you’re on your own with that. I’m not good at it either. Get the best one you can find, but even a mediocre watermelon will work great in all of these recipes.
- Seedless cucumber – I prefer the cucumbers that are unnecessarily wrapped plastic wrap. Sometimes they’re called English cucumbers… They are theoretically seedless, and the skin is nice and thin. You could easily use any other type of cucumber, just remove the seeds, and if the skin is really thick and fibrous, peel it off.
- Red bell pepper – In addition to great flavor, red bell pepper also helps to create a deep, rich, red-colored gazpacho. If you’re not worried about color, then yellow or orange peppers would work just as well. I wouldn’t recommend using green because it will throw the flavor profile way off.
- Red onion – For it’s color and sweetness, I prefer red onion in this recipe. Want to use something else? Pretty much any onion, or even a shallot, will work.
- Garlic – It’s important to have garlic for depth of flavor. Not a fan? Use less or none. I guess you could use a bit of garlic powder if that’s all you have… Pre-chopped would also be fine, but fresh is, of course, best.
- Balsamic vinegar – With watermelon, there is no better vinegar than balsamic. The flavors work so well together, and the balsamic just adds a richness to the watermelon. I wouldn’t recommend using any other vinegar in this dish, but if you ONLY had red wine vinegar on hand, you could probably get away with using that.
- “Good” olive oil – I’m laughing as I type this because I always thought it was funny how Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, is always telling people to, “Use good olive oil… “, and then here I am telling y’all to “Use good olive oil… “. But really, use good olive oil. You will definitely taste it in this gazpacho, so you want to make sure you use the best that you can.
- Food processor – A food processor makes easy work of finitely mincing the ingredients for this soup. With dedication, you could do most of the work with a knife, with the exception of turning half of the watermelon into juice. A blender would also work for this recipe, just use a slow setting or pulse it so that you don’t completely liquefy the ingredients.
Wait. What? Watermelon?!
Admittedly, I’m not an expert on picking out watermelons. I look for the yellow patch, and I thump them to listen for something, and I now even look for the lines that supposedly tell you that it’s got a lot of sugar in it. Occasionally, my detective work pays off, and I’m rewarded with a perfectly sweet and ripe watermelon. Other times, even if a melon seems to check all of the ripeness boxes, it’s “just OK”.
But like pizza, Thai food, and sex, a “just OK” waterelon is still worth having.
I don’t buy watermelons as often as I would like to, mostly because I feel like they require a lot of work to get into. And once you do get into them, there seems to be a ton of byproduct that I never know what to do with. Not to mention the storage aspect of trying to refrigerate 15 to 20 pound of fruit.
So, I started to think of other ways that I could use watermelon, both to help me eliminate some of the waste, and to give me some other ways to enjoy a watermelon that might not be the ripest or sweetest one of the bunch.
It came to me that I had seen watermelon used in a recipe that normally called for tomates, so I decided to see just how far I could take it.
No shade at tomatoes, but tomatoes are another one of those fruits that are never really as good as you would like them to be, and most of the time when you find them in our season-less supermarkets, they are under-ripe and bland.
I learned a lot from my initial tests. First of all, “just ok” watermelons are superior to “meh” tomatoes. A watermelon that’s not as sweet as it could be is still more flavorful than a tomato with the same challenges.
Secondly, the yield you get from a single watermelon, is exponentially more than what you get from an entire bushel of tomatoes. I was taken aback by just how much fruit there actually is in a watermelon. I paid close to $6 at Sprouts for an organic melon, and I just keep thinking how much it would have cost for me to get the same amount of usable fruit from organic tomatoes.
In terms of the waste or byproduct, the watermelon does have an edible rind, between the skin and the flesh, that is actually quite good when handled properly. I have a few recipes I’m working on for that, so stay tuned.
The four recipes that I tested out using watermelon in place of tomatoes all came out incredible:
The flavor and texture of the watermelon works so perfectly in all of these dishes that, if you didn’t know any better, you would think they had been made to use watermelon all along.
Check out this video to see just how easily these dishes can be made, and then scroll down for the down for the full printable recipe for my Watermelon Gazpacho.
Refreshing chilled summer soup featuring watermelon.
- 12 ounces watermelon, divided
- 4 ounces seedless cucumber, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 ounces red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 ounces red onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ avocado, thinly sliced or diced
- Food processor
Divide the watermelon into 2, 6 ounce pieces. In a food processor puree ½ of the watermelon into a liquid, which should yield about 1 cup of juice. Pour the juice into a large mixing bowl. Chop the remaining watermelon into small cubes, smaller than ¼ inch, and then add those to the mixing bowl along with the juice.
Roughly chop the onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, and add them to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is very finely chopped, but the colors of the individual veggies are still discernible. Pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the watermelon.
- Add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate. Taste for salt and acidity. Cover, and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
To serve, topped with fresh avocado and a drizzle of olive oil.