I’ve never been big on gazpacho. It never appealed to me. I blame that, however, on sub-par gazpacho. It just doesn’t make sense for me not like it. As I’ve said many times, soup is my favorite meal in the world, and since making it in the summer is not high on my priority list (although it does happen!), gazpacho should be a natural match for me. Until very recently, it always fell kind of flat for me. It kind of reminded me of drinking a semi-chunky V8. Not all that exciting.
Enter pregnancy. And rampant fruit cravings. I cannot get enough, guys. I go through a watermelon a week, loads of peaches and cherries, and am still putting away year-round regulars like bananas, apples, and kiwi on a daily basis. Fruit has been my go-to breakfast or snack.
Combine that with my no-cook kitchen as of late, and gazpacho involving fruit was pretty much inevitable. After reading many, many recipes on the intranets for basic gazpacho, I had an idea of what I wanted mine to consist of. I decided that I’d do the classic veggies (tomatoes, peppers, onion, cucumber, etc) but would add a sweet twist of watermelon to the mix. AND THEN I decided that I wanted to get fancy and top my gazpacho with fun things. I figured it couldn’t hurt. That’s where the herb oil and feta cheese come in. Not only do they taste incredible, but they make it extra pretty!
Now, feta is on the banned pregnancy foods list. My heart broke a little when I learned that many months ago. Luckily, after much research and a candid convo with my doctor, it was determined that pasteurized domestic feta was actually safe for me to eat while with child. HALLELUJAH! It is a big deal. It means that this dip can enter my life again. My doctor wants me to enjoy feta in moderation, but still! One of my fav cheeses is BACK!
I made this gazpacho over the weekend with the intention that we would eat it for a few nights in a row. I’m so glad I made it ahead. With all the stuff going on in our lives at the moment, from living through the kitchen/house renovation from hell, to trying to mentally and emotionally prepare for the fact that we’ll be first-time parents in less than two months (gulp), to taking infant first aid and childbirth classes a couple nights a week, to putting together a completely nonexistent nursery, to dealing with emergency dental surgery on one of our dogs, to working full-time jobs, AND balancing a social and family life on top of it all…I’m grateful for meals that are sitting in the fridge waiting for me.
Gazpacho is perfect for this because (1) it’s BEST made in advance which makes weeknight eating effortless, and (2) there is zero COOKING involved. Unless you’re like me and insist on having crusty, smoky grilled bread on the side. But even that takes minutes and practically zero effort. Meals like this have been a lifesaver as of late.
The good news is that the house renovations are supposed to wrap up next week…just in time for the baby shower that our moms are hosting at our house… and then we’ll finally have some time to focus on getting prepared (like, really prepared) for this baby that has plans to grace us with his presence on or around October 7th. As soon as I get my kitchen back up and running, I’m going to get back into the habit of making at least one freezer meal a week to have for after the baby is born. My freezer is already half full of stuff I made before I lost my stove/oven. Soups will definitely be on the agenda!
For now, though, this cold and refreshing version of soup is hitting all the necessary notes. I could easily see this being added to my regular rotation. It’s clean, healthy, and most importantly, DELICIOUS. I am officially a gazpacho convert. When watermelon is involved.
Do you think this means that I’ll have to up my weekly watermelon quotient to two?! That would be obnoxious.
Spicy Watermelon-Tomato Gazpacho with Herb Oil & Feta (makes 6-8 servings)
For the Gazpacho:
8 cups chopped seedless watermelon
4 large tomatoes, diced
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 jalapeño peppers, finely minced (seeds removed if you don’t like heat)
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Herb Oil:
½ cup basil leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup grapeseed oil
Fine salt and black pepper, to taste
Grilled sourdough bread, for serving
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
For the Gazpacho:
1. Put half of the chopped watermelon into a blender and puree on high for 30 seconds, until liquefied. Pour into a large bowl and add the remaining watermelon and all other ingredients. Stir well to mix and adjust the seasoning as needed. At this point you have two options: leave the gazpacho as is and serve it on the chunky side, OR puree the entire mixture until smooth (the latter was my preference).
2. Cover (I used plastic quart containers with lids) and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours (the longer it sits, the better it gets). Before serving, stir or shake well (it may separate a little), and then check the seasoning again and adjust as needed.
For the Herb Oil:
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until completely smooth. Taste for seasoning. Serve as is or pass through a fine-mesh sieve for a smoother texture.
Ladle the gazpacho into serving bowls and garnish with crumbled feta, a drizzle of the herb oil, and serve with grilled bread on the side.