Friday, July 21, 2006

Family, Food & Hot Weather

Recipes: Green Gazpacho and Watermelon-Cucumber-Mint Salad

On a recent trip outside the cool climes of our little corner of the world, we ventured into the greater Sacramento Valley, Sierra Foothills, and beautiful Sonoma Valley (next post) to visit with family and friends. As we arrived in the foothills, the temperature was hovering at about 100 degrees and continued to climb for the next 5 days. Needless to say, meals were prepared using as little indoor heat as possible, and prepped early in the relative coolness of the morning or late in the evening. I didn't cook any of the dishes you will see here. Lazy sloth that I am, I just savored the delicious and creative endeavors of our family's cooks.

The cool cucumber & watermelon salad and the incredible (and coveted) green gazpacho were prepared by newly-weds Jennifer (Clay's sister) and Kees. More photos and recipes will be the subject of another post.

Watermelon, Cucumber & Mint Salad
adapted from Sensational Salads by Barbara Scott-Goodman

4 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups seedless cucumbers peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 bunch (small) watercress, stems removed, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts (I would toast these)

Place watermelon and cucumbers together in a large bowl.
Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the lime juice, olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.
Pour over the melon mixture, tossing to coat.
Mix in the chopped herbs and the pine nuts and chill thoroughly before serving.
This is intended to serve 6 but is so delicious they will want seconds. My only addition to this recipe would be to toast the pine nuts before combining with the fruits.

Green Gazpacho
Adapted from Alex Urena
Printed in the New York Times, July 12, 2006

2 1/2 pounds ripe plum or grape tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup vodka
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped small dice
2 green bell peppers, seeded, cored and chopped small dice
4 tomatillos, husks removed and chopped small dice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 avocado cut in small cubes (I'd use the whole thing)
1 small handful each chives, cilantro, parsley, minced separately
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced

The night before serving,
Combine tomatoes, lemon grass and vodka in a blender and puree until smooth. Line a colander with cheesecloth, set over a bowl, and pour in tomato mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Clear liquid will drain through to the bowl leaving the solids in the colander, which you can discard.
In another bowl combine the cucumbers, green peppers, tomatillos, vinegars, lemon juice, sugar and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, combine the tomato liquid and the vegetables in their marinade in a large bowl along with the minced herbs, scallions and avocado.
Adjust to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar, adding more as needed. Serve very cold.

My note: the recipe says to blend the ingredients until smooth but this was left rustic, which I think is better. Also, it says this will serve 6-8 people but I can promise you it will all be gone before you know it!


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  2. The watermelon salad looks really good. I'd love to try it!


  3. Wow - these both look fantastic!

  4. Paz, It is delicious and very, very easy to prepare.

    Catherine, Yes, they were both fantastic. And even though the gazpacho has a lot of ingredients and takes an overnight to prepare, it's sooooo worth it!

  5. These both look great! Although, I think I will have to try the gazpacho fairly soon.

    I love the northern California Coast! My boyfriend's parents have a small house about 50 miles south of Mendocino, so whenever we drive down, we usually take the coast from the Portland area. We go through Eureka and Arcata and all of those places :)

  6. Hi michelle, If you ever want to stop in Trinidad on your way down the coast, let me know.

    My brother-in-law is going to be very happy that so many people like this gazpacho.


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