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Melon, tomato citrus gazpacho with mint oil

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There is a not-so-subtle element that is often overlooked by chefs: balance. Sure, a plate can look and taste fantastic, but what has actually gone into that dish that has your taste buds doing the proverbial shuffle? I only ever want the best for my crew and guests. Regardless if I am making cheeseburgers or fresh granola, I apply the same mindset of achieving the same goal: balance.

To me, balance involves taste and sight, but also health. There are many ways to achieve tasty meals other than by adding two pounds of Irish butter. Given the direction foodies are going, do some research into healthy alternatives when planning your next menu and pay it forward with health. I find great ideas for healthier alternatives on Facebook at the Lin Organic Life page and Jennifer Minnaar’s page.

This gazpacho is great for lunch or as a dinner starter. It resonates freshness and is just so easy to prepare, store and plate. Makes 12 portions.

 

Photo by Mark Godbeer

Photo by Mark Godbeer

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

8 extra ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 cucumbers, deseeded and chopped

1/4 cantaloupe melon, deseeded and chopped

1/4 honeydew melon, deseeded and chopped

Salt and pepper

 

In a saucepan heated to med-high, add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, celery and cayenne and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the chicken stock and OJ and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Once the tomato mix is cool, add it to a Vita Mix. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high for 1 minute.

Salt and pepper to taste and blend on high for 10 seconds more.

Pass the mixture through a sieve and store in the fridge until completely cold. 

For the mint oil:

1 bunch mint, leaves removed and thoroughly washed

1 pinch salt

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch green onion tops

Place all the ingredients in a Vita Mix and blend on high for 1 minute.

Pass through a fine sieve into a squeeze bottle and store in fridge.

For the pickled carrots:

3 cups water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup sea salt

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

1 lb. baby heirloom carrots (mixed colors), tops cut off and sliced thinly

In a saucepan, add the water, vinegar, salt and coriander seeds and bring to a boil.

Add the carrots, place lid on pot and remove from heat.

Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Drain carrots and remove seeds. Cool completely.

To plate:

Ladle the gazpacho into a soup bowl (preferably a bowl with a larger lip so you can stack the carrots) until it reaches halfway. Then place 5-6 pickled carrot pieces into the bowl followed by  mint oil (no more than a teaspoon). I added blue corn chips to my most recent serving and I highly recommend it for the added texture.

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