Melons are part of the cucurbit family, which also contain cucumber and pumpkin; the Charentais variety, perhaps unsurprisingly, hails from Charentes in France. The very best melons (and pumpkins) are often matured for 20 days in the sun to sweeten; the most exigent growers even measure the sugar density of their fruit before sending to market, and some may seal the fruit with a wax tip where they were picked. This effectively reduces moisture loss and keeps them fresher for longer.
Keep the melon somewhere cool rather than in the fridge. The below recipe is delicious in the warm weather, but must be served ice cold: keep the gazpacho in the fridge on another bowl of ice, and store the glasses or serving bowls in the freezer.
Do use scales to get the ratios correct, rather than guessing; this will save you time as you take the direct route to the desired result rather than the scenic one! This is also fantastic with watermelon.
Charentais melon gazpacho
600g Ripe charentais melon, diced
100g Cucumber, peeled and chopped
30g Green pepper, chopped
10g Shallot, peeled and chopped
1g Garlic, peeled and chopped (one quarter of a regular sized clove)
10g Chardonnay vinegar
10g White wine vinegar
1 tsp Lemon juice
Pinch Espelette pepper (or cayenne pepper / chilli flakes)
1 sprig Basil or Lemon verbena, bruised
Extra virgin olive oil
- Mix everything together and leave for 4hrs or overnight in the fridge.
- Blitz in a blender, just for 5-10 secs, until pureed but still pulpy.
- Pass through a sieve twice: the first time pushing through, the second time just tapping it through.
- Add the basil or verbena and leave to cold infuse for 20 mins, then pass again. Keep on ice. Must be ice-cold.
- Pour into frozen serving glasses and add a splash of olive oil to each.