Gazpacho, the classic cold soup associated with the south of Spain and Portugal has been enjoying a moment in the blistering heat of this particularly torturous summer. In its most primal form, the soup originated with the Roman Empire when soldiers would carry stale bread, garlic and olive oil with them on their raids. When hunger struck, they would mix the ingredients into a pasty soup. The Moors of ancient Morocco made a similar concoction, Ajo Blanco, using both ground almonds and bread thickening agents. Tomatoes, the ingredient we most closely associate with the chilled soup, did not join the party until the late 1400s when Spanish explorers “discovered” the Americas and returned to Europe with seedling tomato and pepper plants. The tomatoes and peppers that are foundational to so many world cuisines (Spanish, Italian, Provencal French, all of Asia), were not introduced to those cultures until the late 1400s at the very earliest and they are native to “New World.” At Herbsaint Chef Donald Link’s take on the hot weather staple marries up a bounty of summer produce, whips it up in a blender, and tops it with a bright, luscious crabmeat salad. Check out the Notes section for crabmeat substitutes that will not put such a crush on your budget.
Watermelon Gazpacho with Crabmeat Salad
Adapted from Chef Donald Link, HerbsaintServes 6 to 8 as a first courseGazpacho: 4 cups chopped ripe tomato 4 cups diced watermelon 1/2 fennel bulb, diced small 1/2 small onion, diced small 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and chopped 1/4 cup loosely packed torn mint leaves 1/4 cup loosely packed torn basil leaves 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender.2. Blend on low to combine and then raise the speed to medium for a few pulses (the mixture should be evenly combined, but still a little chunky).3. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon, as desired. Crabmeat Salad: 1/2 cup mayonnaise Grated zest and juice of 2 limes 1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced 10 mint leaves, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Pinch of Kosher salt Pinch of sugar 1 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crabmeat (see Notes for substitutions) 1. Carefully pick the crab free of shells. Do this at least twice.2. Combine the mayonnaise, lime zest and juice, jalapeño, mint, red pepper flakes, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl and then gently toss in the crabmeat. To Serve:1. Divide the gazpacho among four chilled, wide bowls. Divide the crabmeat salad atop each and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Try the recipe with 1 1/2 pounds of peeled, deveined, and boiled large (21/25) Gulf shrimp. If buying shell-on shrimp start with 2 1/2 pounds. Instead of boiling the shrimp with seafood boil use the juice of two limes and salt the water until it tastes like seawater. Cook the shrimp just until they are fully pink then drain and chill them before proceeding with the recipe.
Substitute diced, ripe avocado the crabmeat. If doing so eliminate the mayonnaise.