Contributor: Caroline Coker
Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold, usually with a tomato base, originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. However, here on the Gulf Coast, especially in the Florida Panhandle, it is eaten in abundance and with many different variations. Watermelon contains 92 percent water, and is the perfect hydrator for steamy beach days. This recipe is sure to please for lunch, a light dinner, or summer party. Make a large batch to chill the night before any event, or to save time when coming in after a day of fun in the sun. The dollop of crème fraîche adds a touch of creamy decadence to the refreshing gazpacho, but you can also skip the crème fraîche and use fresh lump crab in season, like I did.
3-pound seedless watermelon, diced (about 5 cups), divided
3 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cubed
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small jalapeño, seeded, minced
2 pale green inner celery stalks, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup loosely filled cilantro stems removed for measure, then chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 heads garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup crème fraîche (optional)
1 pint jumbo lump crab, gently rinsed and tossed with a dash of salt and the juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
Puree 4 cups of the watermelon in blender with tomatoes until smooth, I use a Vitamix. Transfer puree to a large glass bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of diced watermelon and the next 10 ingredients to the Vitamix and pulse 6 times; stir and combine with puree. Cover gazpacho and refrigerate until cold, at least 1-4 hours.
Divide the gazpacho among bowls, and top with dollop of crème fraîche.
Fact: The dishes shown in the photo belong to my grandmother, my stepfathers mom. She would be 100 years old this month. I love using different dishes with recipes. They are as comforting as the cooling gazpacho.
Note: Crème fraîche is a soured cream that contains 30-45% butterfat and preferred for this recipe, however, American sour cream is more sour and watery, but can be substituted if necessary.
Tip: To make crème fraîche at home, use 1 3/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Whisk the cream and buttermilk together, just to combine. Pour into a 2 -cup jar (like a mayonnaise jar), cover tightly and let it stand in your refrigerator for 24 hours. By then it should be thickened. If separated, whisk until smooth and use immediately. It will store for two weeks. Add 1/2 teaspoon of grated lime lest, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste for a different variation.
Tip: To add even more Gulf Coast flair, top the Gazpacho with jumbo lump crabmeat that has been very gently rinsed and tossed with the juice of 1/2 lemon and salt to taste. Most of the Florida Gulf Coast lump crab comes from our good neighbors in lower Alabama.
Contributor Caroline Coker was raised on 30A, and has been living in South Walton, Florida since the age of five. She is passionate about health and fitness, and graduated in Nutritional Science from The University of Alabama in August 2015. You will find more of her work here at 30AEats.com on Beach Eats, recipes that she is working on for her first cookbook. Caroline also handles the social media for GulfCoastRestaurants.com.