Every year my family gets together for a summer weekend party, filled with inside jokes, great food, fun in the sun and sometimes someone gets thrown into the water fully dressed. Lucky me, I come from a family of serious foodies. We all love to cook and experience with new recipes and ingredients. I am inspired by each and every one of them for all the diversity they bring to the table. Sure, sometimes it’s not easy to coordinate when you have about a dozen people contributing snacks, drinks and dishes – in the end it all works out.
The debate is always what to bring. The main is often planned well in advance (and there will be a special blog post dedicated solely to this main), therefore all that is left to do is put together salads, sides, apps, snacks, etc.
For a while I’ve wanted to experiment making a watermelon gazpacho, and now I had the perfect occasion to test out a recipe.
- 1 red onion, finely diced – about 1 cup
- 4 celery stalks, diced – about 1 ½ cups
- 2 cucumbers, diced – about 3 cups
- 3 large tomatoes, diced – about 6 cups
- 2 bell peppers, diced – about 1 ½ cups
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2.5 liters of watermelon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
So here it goes… this recipe easily feeds 12 to 16 people as an appetizer. Though I have included fixed measurements, what is important to note is the proportions so that you can cut the recipe is half or multiply it depending on how big or small your family is. When shopping for vegetables, go to your local farmers market so that you can get the freshest ingredients, and play around with colours and try using a variety of tomatoes – this really gives the dish a lot of subtle dimension.
In a large bowl, combine the finely diced red onion with the lemon juice and a couple pinches of salt and set aside for about 20 minutes or while you prep the remainder of the vegetables. When prepping the other vegetables, cut them up into a small dice and more or less the same size. Strain the juices, keeping only the onion. Combine all the diced vegetables, crushed garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and spices.
Slowly add the watermelon juice until the mixture is as chunky or soupy as you desire it. To make the watermelon juice, cut up a melon and process the flesh in a blender until liquid. You shouldn’t have any problem blending the fruit. If you do, simply grab a large wooden spoon and smash the watermelon a bit before turning on the blender.
Once all the ingredients combined, refrigerate and allow the flavours to mingle for at least an hour before serving. You can also make this up to 24 hours before serving. Serve cold and garnish with chives or croutons.
As the evening progresses, wine glasses are filled, dishes are passed around, tasted and recipes discussed.
Finally the night falls, a campfire is lit, the acoustic guitar is played, we all sign along out of tune, and so begins the marshmallow roasting competition…