Green gazpacho with grilled watermelon and goat cheese cream

I was about to make my favorite juice of cucumber, celery, watermelon, mint and lemon juice.

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And while I was looking at the cut vegetables and fruits I just decided to try and make a dish using them instead of juicing. This is how the idea was born.

I made a simple, green gazpacho using the celery and cucumber, added some chopped white onion, a garlic clove and a slice of the watermelon. Seasoned generously with salt, a little bit of lemon juice and a pinch of ground black pepper.

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I wanted to keep the clean freshness of the cucumber and celery. Why? Because of the grilled watermelon. In case you never grilled watermelon before I highly recommend you try it.

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It changes its taste drastically, also the texture is modified. The sugar gets caramelized and intensifies the flavor. It is the richness of the grilled watermelon that made me keep the gazpacho light and not to season it heavily. During grilling I seasoned the watermelon with some salt and cayenne pepper. The touch of heat was so yummy in the sweet, rich watermelon.

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I also made some goat cheese cream because it goes very well with both the watermelon and the greens. Its salty tang is just the perfect extra touch that really makes this simple, healthy, beautiful summer soup…. well, something special. 🙂

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For the vegan version the only change I made is to leave out the goat cheese cream. You can simply make a thick cream of any of your favorite nuts  and drizzle that over the soup. I decided to make the soup creamier with blending soaked cashews into the soup. This is the reason for the different color. This is a quicker way to make the soup, it is up to you how you want to make it.

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If you want to keep the soup raw you will have to skip grilling the watermelon. This will however change the taste completely. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can vacuum the watermelon, it will get compressed and its taste will also intensify and the texture will be modified too. This is a good way to make this soup entirely raw but also add something extra to the watermelon.

For garnishing in both soup I used the leaves and blossoms of anise hyssop and arugula oil.

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Anise hyssop has a bit of anise taste so if you don’t like that or just can’t find the herb, mint is a perfect replacement.

Hope you enjoy the version that suits your diet and celebrate the summer with this beauty!

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Ingredients (yields 4)

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 8-10 celery stalks (depending on the size and how much celery taste you like in the soup)
  • 1 thick slice of watermelon
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt, lemon juice, ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon chevre at room temperature (soft goat cheese)
  • 2 tablespoon goat milk (if you substitute with milk it will not have that intense goat chees flavor, but still works)
  • 4 slices of watermelon, keep the rind on while grilling
  • olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Chop all the vegetables and blend well in your blender. Season with salt, black pepper and a little bit of lemon juice. Pour in a container and keep in the fridge to make sure it is cold when serving.
  • For the goat cheese cream, using a fork mix the soft, room temperature chevre with the goat milk and season with salt.
  • Grill the watermelon just before eating the soup. It will be the best warm, off the grill with the cold gazpacho.
  • Brush both sides of the watermelon with olive oil. Season very lightly with salt.
  • Grill one side. While grilling, season it with cayenne pepper lightly, only on the second side.
  • Flip the watermelon and grill the cayenne pepper seasoned side too.
  • For plating pour the soup in shallow bowls, drizzle the cream in spots, add small cubes or triangles of grilled watermelon an sprinkle some chopped anise hyssop or mint or even basil over the soup.

For the vegan version

  • Follow all the steps as above. Leave out the goat cheese cream.
  • For a nut based cream simply blend same amount of soaked nuts with same amount of filtered water and strain. Use the cream as it says above in the instructions.
  • Alternatively if you want to save some time, or prefer, blend 1/2 cup of soaked cashew in the soup and make the soup a creamy texture.

ENJOY!

 

Mediterranean lamb burger

I was totally not thinking about putting this on my blog. But when my husband said it was so good that in a restaurant he would pay 30 bucks for it…… I thought oh well, others might like it too.

Since I was not thinking about sharing this, I will  have measurements only for the patties and  instructions on how to do the rest. This is a lamb burger and the components bring you the taste of summer and the Mediterranean.

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For the patties I used minced lamb. I bought it from a farmer and I am pretty sure the meat actually made a tremendous amount of difference to this burger. Managed to keep the patty juicy, full of flavor and at the same time the lamb taste was not overpowering.

For 6 small or 4 big patties I used

  • 1 medium size red onion sauteed in 2 T olive oil (add the olive oil to the mix too)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lb of minced lamb,
  • 1 egg
  • 2T crumbled feta cheese
  • 1T breadcrumb
  • 1/2t dried oregano
  • 1t mix of sweet paprika, ground cumin and ground coriander
  • salt, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper

……..you can play with the spices, if you like hot and spicy you can add more cayenne and if you like the cumin-coriander taste you can increase that too……

The other components in the burger:

  • Roasted red and orange sweet pepper. Cut the peppers in half, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place them in a roasting pan or dish cut side up. Roast in the oven at 440F until skin is charred. Alternatively you can also grill them in whole, turning to grill on each side. Once they are done wrap them in cling film, it will make peeling easy. Once it is cooled, peel the skin off and slice them, drizzle with olive oil and some fresh oregano. You can roast as much as you want, because the leftover can be kept in a jar with oil for later use for a week. You can use it on salads, sandwiches.
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grilled pepper
  • Tomato ceviche. This has to be acidic to compensate for the sweetness of the roasted veggies in the burger!  Slice heirloom or other big, juicy, meaty, tasty, yummy tomatoes into medium slices with same size slices of red onion. Mix some water, lemon juice, little bit of vinegar (any type), sugar, chopped fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. You need just as much liquid to just cover the tomatoes.    (taste the liquid and adjust to your liking)     Marinate the tomatoes and onion in the liquid. They are ready in 30 minutes. If you leave them too long, for hours, they will be falling into parts. It is not a problem, but a bit difficult to handle.
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heirloom tomatoes
  • I also made a roasted tomato-preserved lemon ketchup. If this is too much work for you replace it with some store bought, special, tasty ketchup. Do not ruin your burger with some generic, artificial one! I roasted the halved tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and onions cut in quarters at 440F for only 30 minutes. Once done, blended them and cooked the puree with 1 chopped preserved lemon, cayenne pepper, lots of salt, a little bit of dark brown sugar.
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home made preserved meyer lemon

To assemble the burger I used more fresh red onion slices, more crumbled feta, micro greens and olives.

ENJOY!

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