As summer moves along, we start to see some of my favorite ingredients ripening in the fields. Tomatoes, blackberries and melons abound. Peaches from the neighborhood are always a nice surprise. This year our melons have been growing very well, better than in previous years. Yellow watermelons, sugar babies and cantaloupe too. However waiting for a melon to ripen is like watching paint dry. As an organic farm, we always grow enough for everyone, including the deer and they seem to know better than we do the exact day before it is perfect for serving. However, luckily, we do have enough to share and their portion seems to keep them happy. They have a good life up here! On special ingredient that has made an early appearance is the acorn squash. Normally we don’t see these until later in the summer along with the butternut and spaghettis squashes, but we love surprises. We like to incorporate an element of surprise into our menus as well, keeping our chefs on their toes. In the midst of the second annual Farm to Fork Loudoun project, we met many new farmers and vintners. The relationships we develop with our local producers are invaluable and we ask everyone to continue your support of these businesses at your local farmers markets and at their wineries. So, a big thank you goes out to all of those who participated in this years project. I encourage you to visit the website, http://www.farmtoforkloudoun.com, to learn more about each and every on of them. Since my mind has been on watermelons, I would like to share with you a recipe that makes for a great cold appetizer at your next party.
Serves 8 – 10
1 medium sized seedless red watermelon, peeled and chopped
1 small cantaloupe for garnish
2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 english cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
½ small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup picked herb leaves (mint, tarragon and basil) for garnish
lemon juice to taste
lime juice to taste
high quality extra virgin olive oil for garnish
cracked black pepper for garnish
Cut the cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds. Using a melon baller, scoop the entire cantaloupe into balls and set aside in the refrigerator for garnishing the soup later. In a blender, puree the watermelon, cucumber, tomato, jalapeno and onion. Transfer the puree to a large bowl or pitcher and season to taste with lemon and lime juice. Chill the soup in a large ice bath, before serving and when ready to serve, divide soup among 8-10 bowls. Garnish each bowl with a few cantaloupe balls, a sprinkling of herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of cracked black peppercorns.
Chef’s note: a fun way to present this soup would be to serve it in the hollowed out melon resting on a bed of crushed ice. And the perfect beverage pairing would be either cava, a Spanish sparkling wine or super chilled Tito’s vodka mixed with club soda.