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Brunch gazpacho is sweet with a bit of tang

Papaya Dew melon was the base for this recipe, but any muskmelon
will work. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Recipe: Melon dish spans end of summer, start of fall

Late September is a great time of year for farm-fresh produce, but it’s also a confusing one. Should I make one more fresh peach cobbler before the stone fruit disappears, or jump into fall with a pear galette? Plums or apples? Berries or figs?

We’re right at the end of local melon season now, so there’s still time to make this fragrant and delicious melon gazpacho recipe I ran across years ago in the Los Angeles Times food section.

I typically make it with cantaloupe or other fresh muskmelon that either I grow or find at the farmers market. This year I tried a new melon in my garden, the Papaya Dew hybrid. It looks like a honeydew in skin color, but it’s smaller and more football-shaped, weighing it at about 3 pounds. The flesh inside is the color of apricots, firm but juicy. And when the aroma of the first melon I picked perfumed my whole kitchen, I was hooked. The last four of them ripened at the same time earlier this month, so I knew it was time to bring out the gazpacho recipe.

This gazpacho is a wonderful first course before a summer meal, but with the days growing shorter, I think it works best as a brunch offering. Present it in chilled bowls or shot glasses, depending on how many other dishes you’re serving. It’ll get the meal off to a sweet (but not too sweet) start.

Melon gazpacho

Serves 6 as a first course
Adapted from a Los Angeles Times recipe originating with chef Todd Aarons

2 cups cubed French bread or sourdough, all crusts removed (cubes should be 1 inch or smaller)

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar)

5 cups peeled, seeded and cubed melon, ripe but not too ripe (equal to about one 3-pound melon)

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon diced red onion

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 dried bay leaves, pulverized nearly to powder (with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder)

Sea salt

½ cup ice cubes, or as needed

Smoked paprika or more extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish, optional


Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour the vinegar over; allow to soak while you’re preparing the other ingredients.

Using a blender or food processor, puree the melon cubes with the red onion. Add the soaked bread and the vinegar to the blender and puree until smooth.

With the motor running, add the olive oil slowly, then the ground-up bay leaves. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt.

If the soup seems too thick, add some of the ice cubes and puree until the desired consistency is reached. (Note: The gazpacho will thicken when refrigerated before serving.) Adjust seasoning again with vinegar and/or salt.

Transfer the gazpacho to a large nonreactive container (I use an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup) and chill before serving.

Serve gazpacho with a sprinkle of smoked paprika for garnish or, if desired, a thin swirl of extra-virgin olive oil.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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