One late summer night a few years ago my friend Athen and I set out to what might have been a bold take on salsa. We started out with some amazingly aromatic mangos, cilantro, a few different pieces of stone fruit, various particularly great specimens of melon, and of course we had to get cucumbers for their cooling qualities, and spicy peppers for a hot kick.
What we ended up producing came to be known as Melon Gazpacho and I used it as a dessert at Citizen Cake as well as Aziza. Topped with seasonal sorbet, either a rare or delicate stone fruit or an heirloom tomato, the concept made an extremely refreshing, low sugar option for the sweet disinclined or the savoury experimentalist.
This recipe is as exact as the rules for 52 Pick-Up. Whether you use it as a salsa or a soup, I guarantee it’s the best way to eat all these fruits together without cooking them.
1 ea. Cucumber
3 ea. 1/2 Melons**
6 ea. Tomatoes*
1/2 bunch Cilantro
2 ea. Limes
1 ea. Jalapeno or Serrano
1-2 ea. Peaches
1-2 ea. Nectarines
1-2 ea. Pluots***
1 ea. Mango, very ripe!
1. In a very large non-reactive bowl squeeze juice of 2 limes.
2. Prep all fruit into varying examples of small to bite-sized pieces, and toss in bowl, mixing with spatula to combine and intermingle with citrus juice.
3. Wash cilantro, shake dry, and chop repetitively until very small. Mix with fruit.
4. Carefully seed hot pepper while wearing latex gloves. Cut pepper into tiny pieces. Taste one piece by itself to decide how much of it you will want in your gazpacho. Season with the pepper accordingly.
4. When you’re done prepping mango flesh, squeeze pit juices into bowl.
Let “marinate” for at least one hour before serving. Gazpacho may be kept upwards of three days in a covered, non-reactive container refrigerated.
* The more colors and flavors of tomatoes you can acquire, the better your soup will look and each bite will deliver something new. If you know how to peel Sweet 100’s/Cherry Tomatoes, these make a fantastic impression in the mouth as well as the hearts of the guests lucky enough to be served this delightful touch.
** I like to use melons of different colors and textures. Jeff McAravy of Short Night Farms has a way with watermelons, The Peach Farm grows the effervescent H’Aogen as well as some other lesser known melons at the peak of their season. (Both farms can be found at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market.)
*** Blossom Bluff grows the broadest array of plum-apricot mixes. As well as at Ferry Plaza, they can be found at both the Tuesday and the Saturday Berkeley Farmer’s Market.