Summer: Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho

Pairs perfectly with 2012 Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir

Recipe by Chef Josh Silvers

1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
1 teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup water
1 small seedless watermelon (about 3 1⁄2 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks
1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
2 limes, plus 1 more if needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for garnish

In a small dry skillet, combine the chile powder, pimentón, and New Mexico chile powder. Stir over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

In a small pan, combine the sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Put half of the watermelon in a blender and add 1⁄4 cup of the sugar syrup. Blend until smooth. Set aside. Finely chop the remaining watermelon and put in a medium bowl with the onion, peppers, cilantro, and toasted spices. Grate in the zest of 1 lime. Add the watermelon puree and the juice of 2 limes; taste and add more if needed to balance the flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

To serve, spoon into small bowls or glasses. Garnish each serving with cilantro sprigs, avocado slices, and a slice of lime and serve. Makes 6 first-course servings



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