Cool Off with Watermelon Gazpacho
There are few things better suited for each other than a hot, humid summer day and a watermelon. In a sign that the Universe loves us and wants us to be happy, the peak season of the watermelon is in perfect sync with our need for something just exactly like a watermelon.
At the precise moment when we are sweating away our precious bodily fluids, a magical green orb appears, filled with delicious, hydrating fruit. If you have ever grown watermelons, they really do seem magical. A few little seeds go into the dirt, and a spindly vine somehow produces giant, heavy fruit. Tomatoes look like a pale effort by comparison. Cucumbers? Move over, the big fat ball of sweet water is here.
Watermelon is such a tasty treat, you’d probably put it in the category with candy, not health food. Just keep thinking that way. But it’s actually in the latter group.
Dig into that juicy, sweet watermelon and you are loading up on Vitamin C, A and antioxidants like Lycopene. Combining all those with lots of fiber makes watermelon a good deterrent to cancer. Lycopene is recommended for both heart health and to prevent prostate cancer. The evidence for watermelon as a boon to heart health has been mounting, and watermelon extracts have actually been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Eating plenty of vitamin C is one way to keep asthma under control, along with all the other good things C does.
Choline is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that is high in watermelon, and the Vitamin A and C combo is good for healthy, happy skin. So watermelon appeals to my vanity, as well as my tastebuds.
There’s even an amino acid called L-Citrulline that prevents muscle soreness, so the melon actually helps ease all the muscle aches that come from working in the garden. One theory says that the Citrulline is converted to arginine, which is really good for your arteries and heart health.
When fully ripe, the brilliant flesh of the melon delivers Beta Carotene, another powerful antioxidant.
Yet again, a food that is absolutely delicious and also really nourishing at the same time. One of my favorite things in the world, a win-win of fun and function. Yay watermelon!
So while I can bury my face in a stack of watermelon slices with the best of them, occasionally I like to make something out of it. Watermelon Gazpacho is a tasty way to play a little savory and sour with all that sweetness. Cucumbers are also supreme hydrators (and good for that skin!) and they slip effortlessly into this simple soup.
This is more of a Mexican-style Gazpacho than the Spanish and the Spanish-inspired ones I have posted in the past. This one could easily be served with corn chips, if you were in that kind of mood. You could even add a jalapeno, although it might start to tip into salsa territory. Some crusty bread will do, too.
It’s a wonderfully refreshing little soup. Easy, cooling, and fortified with just enough olive oil to keep it from being a beverage. If you want to make more of a meal of it, don’t hesitate to garnish with diced tofu, crumbled feta, or sliced, toasted almonds.
I used about half of a seedless red watermelon. You can certainly use an old-school big watermelon, which will have a bit more melon flavor but, you do have to deal with seeds. I chopped everything up in small pieces, then pureed just enough of it to make a frothy soup base to envelop all those tasty chunks. Drizzling in the olive oil as the blender whirred made the olive oil go into suspension, enriching every bite.
The whole process took minutes, and I still had half a melon to eat solo. It was perfect for a fast meal on a hot day, with a hefty chunk of whole wheat bread.
Now is the time to indulge in as much watermelon as you can make space for in your fridge. Eating seasonally never tasted so sweet!
As I mentioned above, you can always add some weight to this soup with cubed tofu, toasted sliced almonds, crumbled feta, even white or black beans. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread, or corn chips, whichever is easier. Because this is all about EASY.
4 cups watermelon, diced
1/2 large cucumber, diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, or fresh mint leaves
Chop the watermelon in small pieces, and put it in a medium bowl. Save the juices as you go, adding them to the bowl. Peel, seed and finely chop the cucumber, red bell pepper and red onion and add to the bowl. Add the salt and lime juice. Stir to mix, then transfer about 1 1/2 cups to a blender and puree, pouring in the olive oil with the machine running. Stir the puree back into the bowl with the chopped watermelon. Serve garnished with cilantro or mint.