Flucuating temperatures last month and an especially rainy Spring caused a lot of people in DC to grumble over when Summer would officially arrive. As I stepped out into the hazy, hot morning today I begrudgingly accepted that the wait is over and the season of thick, unbearable humidity has undeniably begun.
You see I happen to love the highs and lows of April and May. When it’s thundering with a damp coolness in the air I happily hover over a cup of warm tomato and roasted red pepper soup with goat cheese. If the next day the barometer soars into the 90’s it’s great to have the diversity of a crisp, cool salad like arugula with raspberries, candied walnuts and feta. It’s the best of both worlds without the monotony of “seasonal” cooking.
Alas your only option when Summer finally settles in for good is to keep yourself as cool and refreshed as possible. The oppressive heat has a way of pressing itself up against you so that come mid afternoon you are positively exhausted. When this happens I can’t bear to be weighed down by rich food. So I turn to a combination of light and cold ingredients with enough contrast in flavor and texture to keep me amused during the so-called dog days.
Watermelon Gazpacho fits the bill perfectly. If you’ve never tried the combination of melon with tomatoes, it’s sublime and unexpected. It’s delicate balance of sweetness and acidity that when pureed produces a color best described as a deep pink. The garnish of cucumber, feta, basil, toasted pumpkin seeds and olives not only enhances the presentation but also brings the flavor full circle with crunchy texture and salty creaminess.
2 cups peeled and chopped seedless watermelon
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large English cucumber, peeled and cut into small dice
½ red onion, peeled and cut into small dice
1 C seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into small dice
Toasted salted pumpkin seeds
Thinly sliced basil
Coarsely chopped oil cured black olives
Salt and pepper to taste
Puree tomatoes and watermelon in a blender with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish each with a combination of onion, cucumber, watermelon, feta, pumpkin seeds, basil and olives. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil around edge of soup.