Say good­bye to plain wa­ter­melon

The East African - - MAGAZINE -

I ate my child­hood wa­ter­melon plain, un­aware of al­ter­na­tives. As an adult, though, I nearly al­ways seek a salty com­po­nent. In Mex­ico, I learned to eat it with hot red chili and with salt and lime, too. Wa­ter­melon salad with sharp feta cheese and black olives was also al­lur­ing. Wa­ter­melon rind pickles beck­oned, sweet, salty and cider-vine­gary.

Salt or a salty el­e­ment is the per­fect com­ple­ment to wa­ter­melon’s sweet­ness. A splash of olive oil, a lit­tle acid­ity or some chopped onion are all wel­come.

I wanted to make a sim­ple gaz­pa­cho­like cold wa­ter­melon soup, and I dis­cov­ered that wa­ter­melon purée could han­dle a fair amount of sea­son­ing.

Chilled Wa­ter­melon Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 serv­ings 7 cups diced wa­ter­melon, cut into 1-inch cubes Salt and pep­per Pinch of cayenne 1 ta­ble­spoon red wine vine­gar or sherry vine­gar 4 ta­ble­spoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serv­ing

2 cups diced hon­ey­dew melon or can­taloupe, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 cups diced cu­cum­ber, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 2 ta­ble­spoons snipped chives Hand­ful of small basil leaves Hand­ful of small mint leaves Pinch of crushed red pep­per (op­tional) Pinch of flaky salt (op­tional)

Method

Put 5 cups of diced wa­ter­melon in a food pro­ces­sor or blender and blitz to a purée. Strain purée through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. You should have about 4 cups purée. Sea­son with salt and pep­per and cayenne, 1 ta­ble­spoon vine­gar and 2 ta­ble­spoons lime juice. Taste and ad­just sea­son­ing. Chill bowl on ice or re­frig­er­ate.

To serve, place re­main­ing diced wa­ter­melon, hon­ey­dew melon and cu­cum­ber in a small mix­ing bowl. Toss with a lit­tle salt and pep­per, 2 ta­ble­spoons lime juice and 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil. Di­vide mix­ture evenly into chilled soup bowls.

La­dle wa­ter­melon purée into each bowl. Sprin­kle with chives, basil and mint. Add a sprin­kle of crushed red pep­per and flaky salt if de­sired. Pass lime wedges sep­a­rately.

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