Gazpacho: Sweet Corn vs Watermelon

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Sweet Corn Gazpacho with fresh mozzarella. A refreshing, cool dinner for a patio on a hot summer night.

What is gazpacho?  Cold Soup.  Fresh Ingredients  Minimal or no Cooking.

Now before you get all “Cold soup!?  Gross!?!” on me (which my mom has been saying for years, so I’m used to it) just think about it.  Most people enjoy the occasional fruit or vegetable smoothie – or cold salads – or salsa.  All of these things involve cold vegetables, usually in some kind of sauce, and there are multimillion dollar industries devoted to them.  So if it helps to keep you from being weirded out, think of gazpacho as a vegetable/fruit salad in a lot of dressing.

I’ve made gazpacho since I was in college, usually with sweet corn and tomatoes – and then I liked to dip french bread in it while eating it.  Now I just skip the bread, and sometimes I top it with cheese.  It’s delicious, especially on a hot, humid day when all your ingredients are at the height of being ripe/fresh/amazing.  It’s like drinking the pure nectar of summer.  Seriously.

Now, corn is not a paleo friendly vegetable – but let’s be real, I live in Iowa.  So twice a summer I usually allow myself to eat something with sweet corn because if I didn’t they might deport me.  One thing I’ll say about sweet corn – if possible, buy it and eat it fresh, and by that I mean, never refrigerated.  When I was growing up, the sweet corn was something we waited for every year.  It was a topic of conversation starting in the first week of July every year, “Hey, when ya think that sweet corn’ll be ready?”  My dad planted a large plot, the variety he chose was always peaches and cream – which is a mix of white and yellow kernels.  I loved going out to check on it with him  Sometimes we’d go down too early and come back empty handed.  But once we came back with it, we would eat sweet corn off the cob for a week straight.  I’m not exaggerating.  Every night for dinner, the table would be littered with gnawed on cobs robbed of their kennels and we’d lick the butter off our fingers.  It felt luxurious, even though that was sometimes the only thing we ate.  My dad would call all of our friends to inform them, “Yeah, the sweet corn’s ready”.  It was always far more corn than we could eat so we encouraged the community to jump in the field and grab as much as they wanted.  My dad always reminded them, “If we don’t get it, you know the ‘coons will!”  It was true – those raccoons ate as good as we did.  Oh, fond food memories 🙂

Ok, let’s get to it:

 

Sweet Corn Gazpacho

6-7 large ripe tomatoes, cores removed

1 cucumber**, seeded, diced to corn kernel sized peices

2 cups cooked sweet corn, removed from cob ( you can steam, grill or roast the corn – grilling and roasting will get you more flavor! just don’t add any butter)

1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 green onion, minced

salt & pepper to taste

Optional garnish: small chunks fresh mozzarella cheese or fresh cilantro/parsely

** Be careful when selecting your cucumber.  English cucumbers, which are really long and skinny, can be added with their skin.  ‘Regular cucumbers’ (for lack of a better term), are a bit shorter and fatter, and their skin is bitter.  If you are using regular cucumbers, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.

(One more thing:  If you can find a fresh corn salsa or salad at your local grocery, you can use that in place of the corn and garlic, and maybe the jalepeno depending on the flavor.  It’s a great way to save time, just don’t use anything that has beans in it.  Gateway Market in Des Moines has a corn salsa that’s prefect for this recipe.)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except for the tomatoes.  Cut the tomatoes in half and place in food processor (or blender).  Pulse until pureed.  Add to bowl with other vegetables.  Cover and chill overnight or at least 6 hours before serving.  The longer it chills, the better it will get – you might want to make it two days in advance!

To serve: Loosen with two tablespoons water if needed. Garnish with fresh herbs or fresh mozzarella.

 

The inspiration for recipe #2 came from Tyler Florence, but I tweaked a few things, because I wanted to make use of the fresh mint that is growing like a weed on my roof!

Watermelon Gazpacho

3 medium vine ripened tomatoes, cores removed, quartered
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
3 cups cubed seedless watermelon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs minced red onion
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 tbs minced fresh mint, plus more to garnish
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese (the best for this is the honey chèvre from Trader Joes)

Purée the tomatoes, jalapeño and 1.5 cups watermelon in blender. Add olive oil and lemon juice and pulse. Add red onion, cucumber, and mint, purée till smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, pulsing in blender as needed. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Again, the longer it sits, the better it gets!

To serve, pour gazpacho into bowls, top with goat cheese, mint and remaining watermelon.

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