By Freya Bellin
[Starting this very moment I’ll be posting a recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook every Monday afternoon. Some of these recipes will include “less meat” than we might be used to, and others no meat at all. In conjunction with these postings, Freya Bellin has gallantly volunteered to (slowly) cook her way through the book while photographing the recipes and commenting on them. Without further ado, let Less-Meat Mondays begin. MB]
I know it’s now officially fall, but with the farmer’s market still overflowing with peaches and tomatoes, I couldn’t help but turn to gazpacho, a traditionally summery soup. For this gazpacho, I used a combination of about 4 cups watermelon, 2 heirloom tomatoes, and 2 peaches. The recipe says you can substitute peaches for the tomato or the watermelon, but I figured, why not use all three? Good thing I did: it ended up being one of the lightest, most refreshing dishes I can remember eating.
You can’t exactly taste the individual fruits in this non-traditional gazpacho, but the watermelon lends its texture and the peach its sweetness. Make sure you include the toppings and garnish with this one. The salty feta adds great texture and super-fresh basil offsets everything beautifully. If you’re entertaining, make sure not to garnish too far ahead of time, as the feta starts to sink. Recipe adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho with Feta
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes, plus time to chill (optional)
The combination of cool watermelon and tomatoes with feta is as good as it gets in the summer, and just about as easy. One simple variation: use peaches instead of the watermelon or the tomatoes—it’s great either way.
1 garlic clove
1 small watermelon, or a section of a larger one, about 3 pounds, flesh removed
from the rind, seeded, and cut into large chunks
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
Salt and black pepper
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh basil or mint, for garnish
1. Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it. Add the watermelon, tomatoes, and lemon juice, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. You have two choices here: chunky or smooth. It all depends on whether you turn the machine on and leave it on, or just pulse a few times. Add a few ice cubes, one at a time, just enough to keep the machine working, and blend or pulse until smooth or chunky. Put the gazpacho in the fridge to chill a bit if you like, up to several hours.
2. Just before serving, taste the gazpacho and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed (remember you’ll be adding feta, which is usually salty). Pour the gazpacho into 4 bowls, top with the feta, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil, garnish with the herb, and serve.