In our Chow-To season two premiere, senior video producer Guillermo Riveros visits Haven’s Kitchen to learn a no-cook, zero-waste gazpacho recipe from chef Alexis Delaney. It’s an ingenious (and delicious) way to reduce food waste, and the perfect dish to make at the tail end of summer.
Haven’s Kitchen is part café and part cooking school (this year, virtual classes start again in September), and they put a premium on sustainability and fighting food waste, which is not only a huge problem for the food industry but for the planet in general. There are many ways to reduce food waste, and this particular recipe highlights a couple:
- Don’t be afraid to use ugly produce
- Don’t automatically throw away your scraps
Embracing Ugly Produce
Ugly produce is something of a burgeoning industry, but you don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a special delivery service—just be willing to go for the less attractive specimens at the store (especially if, as with this gorgeous gazpacho, you’re not even going to be able to see what it looks like in the finished dish). And don’t toss out the forgotten veggies in your crisper drawer just because they’ve gotten a little shriveled and wrinkly. If something is actually spoiled, compost it, but if it’s just a bit homely, embrace it and turn it into a meal. You can still trim off any damaged spots if they’re only mostly surface-deep.
Using Your Scraps
But as chef Delaney’s gazpacho shows us, there are less conventional methods to apply to the problem too. Here, she shows us how to pickle watermelon rinds for an unexpected and fantastic garnish that is easy to make and a lovely example of the “waste not, want not” mentality. Pickled watermelon rind also happens to be a classic southern snack, and proof that almost everything tastes great pickled. You’ll never throw away your watermelon rinds again. (Scroll down for the full recipe.)
Cooking with Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard, $12.79 from Amazon
Discover more inventive, nutritious, and delicious ways to use your scraps.
Related Reading: The Best Way to Cut a Watermelon
The Gazpacho Recipe
Speaking of that watermelon, it’s obviously an emblem of summer, and we’re all about eating as much as we can while there’s still some warmth in the air.
Gazpacho, a traditional Spanish chilled soup, is a great way to showcase several different kinds of produce—here, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, and fresh fennel—in a multidimensional bowl. White bread is added to give it more body (and keep you from throwing away that semi-stale loaf!), with additional flavor from sherry vinegar, olive oil, and pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika).
Smoked Pimentón Paprika, $7.99 from Burlap and Barrel
Chef Delaney's favorite brand of smoked Spanish paprika.
Add the optional jalapeño if you like a little kick of heat—but taste a slice from the middle first so you know just how hot it is and only add as much as you can handle.
Chef Delaney suggests that you try the soup topped with feta or grilled shrimp, in addition to the listed garnishes (which include the fronds from the fennel bulb that goes into the soup itself—you can use the remaining fronds in a salad, or freeze them to add to stocks, as mentioned above). If you have edible flowers, they’re a lovely addition as well; nasturtiums lend a peppery punch that plays well with the sweet, fresh flavors of the gazpacho.
And making it is no sweat. All you do is some minimal prep work before chucking everything in a blender. You end up not only with a fast, easy, no-cook dinner that captures the vibrant, fleeting flavors of our last summer produce, but also the satisfaction of having let nothing go to waste.
Watermelon Gazpacho with Pickled Watermelon Rind
- 6-7 cups watermelon, cubed, rind saved
- 3 large tomatoes, cored
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, optional
- 3 slices stale crustless white bread, cubed
- 2 scallions, chopped
- ¼ head fennel, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon pimenton
- 1 cup olive oil
- sherry vinegar and salt to taste
- Cherry tomatoes, pickled watermelon rind, edible flowers, fennel frond, and more olive oil for garnish
- In a blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Taste and add more vinegar and salt as needed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if you want a smoother texture.
- Chill and garnish with cherry tomatoes and pickled watermelon rind, as well as more olive oil.
NutriBullet Pro 900 Series Blender 9-piece Set, $79.99 from Walmart
Perfect for quick soups, sauces, smoothies, and more.
The Watermelon Pickle Recipe
Think of this as a little piece of summer that you can hold on to well into fall. Try the leftover pickle with any roasted meats or seafood you fancy, as a piquant partner to cheese, added to salsa, or in a salad.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
- 1 cup sherry vinegar
- ⅔ cup water
- ⅓ cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup watermelon rind, trimmed of green and pink parts, diced small
- Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small pan and bring to a boil.
- Add the watermelon rind, take off the heat, and allow to cool in the liquid.
You can use the general watermelon pickle ratio for pickling other ingredients too—as well as play around with additional herbs and spices for interesting flavors (think: peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon sticks, or star anise added in small quantities to the pot), and/or try switching up the type of vinegar you use.
As long as you keep the pickles submerged in liquid and don’t contaminate them (say, by eating straight out of the jar with your fingers), they should last from six months to a year in your fridge.
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This post was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with current information.
Header image by Chowhound