As he prepares to open his new restaurant, Commonwealth, in the coming weeks, San Francisco chef Jason Fox can't wait to make gazpacho. And why should he when juicy watermelon is an inspired substitution for still-ripening tomatoes? The chef's watermelon-based version is as refined and refreshing as Commonwealth itself, where culinary innovation will run headlong into deeply satisfying cooking. At home, this vibrant gazpacho will make a splashy dinner-party starter all summer long--so save those tomatoes for salad.
Recipe adapted from Jason Fox, Commonwealth, San Francisco
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 4 hours to chill)
Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
8 cups coarsely chopped seedless watermelon, plus ½ cup finely diced seedless watermelon
½ loaf country bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces (about 4 cups)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
⅓ cup tomato juice, preferably low-sodium
⅓ cup water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 toasted bread rounds
Piment d'Espelette (or mildly hot paprika), for serving
1. In a food processor, puree the 8 cups of coarsely chopped watermelon. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl (you should have 4 cups of watermelon juice). Discard the remaining pulp.
2. Return the watermelon juice to the food processor along with the bread, olive oil, tomato juice, water, vinegar, lemon juice and cayenne. Puree until smooth and strain into a large bowl. Season to taste with salt, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours.
3. Divide the gazpacho among 4 shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with about 2 tablespoons of the finely diced watermelon. Place a toasted bread round on top. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a light dusting of piment d'Espelette and serve.