Watermelon Gazpacho
4 to 6 servings

Today it’s 102 degrees at the northern end of California’s Central Valley, and it’s expected to top out at 104. Climate change is here, readers! That’s why I recommend this watermelon gazpacho. Served chilled on a hot day, there’s nothing more refreshing. Who needs margaritas?

This recipe is from Bon Appetit magazine, and it’s fabulous. The Doña Tina’s take on it is that’s it’s a sweet soup. So the only thing you might need to adjust is the amount of sugar. The recipe calls for 1/3 of a cup – that’s a lot. If the watermelon is already sweet, the gazpacho might end up being too sweet for some people. If the watermelon is a dud and is not very sweet at all, then you might need the full amount.

So treat the sugar in this recipe like salt. Depending on the sweetness of the watermelon, you can add less than 1/3 of a cup of sugar and then add more if you need to.

Also, you don’t need to buy whole containers of spices for this recipe. Just go to the bulk spices section of natural foods stores or upscale supermarkets and get as much as you need at a time. It costs pennies this way, and there’s much less waste.

And if you don’t have time to make the gazpacho, throw some seedless watermelon chunks in a blender and keep chilled in the refrigerator. Best summer drink ever. Enjoy! Stay cool!

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2 cups fresh basil leaves plus more for garnish
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 plum tomato
3 cups 1″ pieces chilled seedless watermelon
1 cup 1″ pieces of chilled, peeled cucumber
1/4 cup (or more) fresh lime juice
1/2 fresh jalapeño chile pepper
olive oil for garnish

In a medium saucepan, bring water, sugar, basil leaves, cloves, anise, and bay leaf to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, and let cool.

Cut an “X” at one end of the tomato. Bring water to boil in a small pot and drop tomato in. Blanch in the boiling water until the “X” starts to pop out a bit (about 30 or 40 seconds). Then immediately put the tomato in a bath of ice water. Let tomato cool for about 5 minutes. Peel the skin off, cut tomato in half, and remove the seeds.

In a blender, combine basil syrup, tomato, jalapeño chile, cucumber, lime juice and watermelon chunks. Whirl until smooth. Serve chilled garnished with basil and olive oil.

 

 

 

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