I've known those who salt their watermelon, and those who sugar their tomatoes. I once thought these practices were madness.
After culinary school, I become more flexible in my appreciation of these summer flavors. Yes, watermelon could get along happily in a savory salad. Yes, tomatoes could represent the sweet aspect of a dish.
Once I'd gotten past the prejudices of my youth, I learned that tomatoes and watermelon could be great friends in salads.
And yet, tomato and watermelon match-ups still seem like strange bedfellows to me. An odd couple.
"But why is this pairing so strange?" I ask myself. They're both fruit. They grow and ripen together.
In fact, under-ripe watermelons taste quite like cucumbers. Since I think nothing of combining cucumbers and tomatoes, tomato-watermelon dishes should be second nature.
Then each summer tomato + watermelon is a minor culinary revelation. These cautious notions must be simply be old habits dying long, hard, tortured deaths.
When I finally do take that terrifying leap and add, gasp! watermelon to my gazpacho... the result isn't horrifying at all. It's truly lovely.
For that matter, this dynamic duo is economical. Since both are simultaneously in surplus at the same time, it's a quick (and rewarding) task to blend them up together into soup.
Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho (Makes about 6 cups)
1/2 cup water or tomato juice
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 cup watermelon, seeded & cubed
1 small cucumber, peeled and quartered
1/4 small red onion
1/2 jalapeño pepper (or substitute 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper)
1 slice whole-grain bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh lime juice (optional)
1-2 Tbsp cilantro or mint, chopped
1 Tbsp small-diced cucumber
1 Tbsp small-diced watermelon
1 Tbsp crumbled fresh cheese or feta
1. Combine water or juice, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, onion, 1/2 jalapeño, bread pieces and salt in a blender or food processor and purée smooth. (You may need to do this in batches.)
2. Taste the gazpacho and adjust the seasoning with 1 tsp fresh lime juice and a little more salt, if desired.
3. Chill one hour or until ready to serve (the flavor will improve overnight). Garnish with chopped herbs, mint, diced cucumber, diced watermelon and/or crumbled fresh cheese.
I find that crunchy fresh-baked croutons are really nice in a gazpacho as well. Or go crazy and throw on some bacon bits. It's a flexible dish.
This is actually a great dish for brown bagging. Just skip the garnish. It'll hold up well for a few hours without refrigeration and won't require on-site heating. Serve it with a salad for a lovely light lunch at some lunching locale of your choice. Like, say... the park.