Honeydew melon & cucumber gazpacho

Who goes and puts honeydew melon in a soup, right? Sounds bizarre. If you feel the same way, I wouldn’t blame you. But..I like bizarre. And this gazpacho is kind of just that.

I’ve tried very hard to visually capture the exact texture of this soup, but I’m not sure if I’ve done a good enough job at it. Have you ever tried making honeydew melon, mango or even papaya juice? They blend well and get velvety and smooth, but it’s not the same consistency as you’d find in say, watermelon juice. It’s pulpier. That’s what the consistency of this gazpacho is like. It’s denser than any other soup I’ve made – even withstood the cucumber slices that I used as garnish!

Traditionally, gazpacho was made by hand pounding green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, vinegar, olive oil and seasonings. Stale bread soaked in water is a popular addition, which purists claim to be the ‘superior’ version. This is the kind that you’d most likely encounter in Andalusia (south of Spain), which also happens to be where this dish originates from. But as is the case with the evolution of food habits, people living in other areas came up with their own intra-regional versions of the gazpacho with the ingredients that they had ready access to, and tweaking it to fit their palates. Some would make them without the bread, while white gazpachos have no tomatoes; they have pine nuts or almonds instead. There are now over hundreds, if not thousands of variations for it!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a glorified smoothie. It does look like it, doesn’t it? Sautéed onions and garlic with a kick of chilli form its base, before the fresh melon and cucumbers are added in. I would strongly recommend a dash of fiery Tabasco over the top for that extra pizazz! Summery, velvety, bizarre..all pulverized together to give you this perfect chilled soup.

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Couscous with roasted vegetables

Is it just me, or did you also think that Couscous was a grain? I remember reading somewhere a while ago that it was actually a pasta in a minuscule granular form, but it must’ve completely skipped my mind when I made it alongside some Spaghetti arrabiata for dinner last night. How very un-savvy of me for having forgotten that, what with all the cooking shows that I watch in the name of research.

I just looked it up again to clarify though, and it looks like we weren’t completely off. While some argue that since the method of making couscous is rather unconventional, it doesn’t really fall under the ‘pasta’ category, whereas, the flip side is that it technically cannot be called a grain since it’s actually just crushed durum wheat. So the sum and substance of it is that it’s neither here nor there. So we were neither right nor wrong. I wish more things in life were this ambiguous.

Arguably one of the most versatile grain/pasta there is, it holds well with almost any flavour combination you give it. I had roasted vegetables mixed through along with some fresh figs and pomegranate seeds for a slight variation, and for no other reason than that I had them lying around. See what I mean by versatile?

I have a lemon and thyme version in mind for next time. Or maybe one with a spicy Indian twist.. I’m neither here nor there just yet.

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WATERMELON, OLIVE AND FETA SALAD WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

I think I enjoy taking pictures of the food that I cook a wee bit more than I enjoy cooking it. Oh no, did I just come on here and admit that? But here’s the thing – just because I love taking pictures of the food that I cook, more, it doesn’t mean that the degree to which I like making them should go down, right? No, that doesn’t make sense and I just wanted to confuse you into believing me by twisting it up. Has your head gone for a toss yet?

You know what they say about pictures being better than a thousand words? Well, I guess my pictures are my write-up on this one.

The deal is pretty much set with this simple salad : with every mouthful, you get saltiness from the Feta cheese, pungent sweetness from the balsamic-brown sugar glaze, zest from the mint leaves, and all of it in a way where the freshness of the watermelon is not threatened. This combination is so refreshing, you’ll be craving it all summer long!

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Friends with benefits : GREEK QUINOA SALAD

I’m a salad girl. No, not the kind that would go to a restaurant and pick on some greenage for a meal (hell no) but definitely one that would get it as a side. That kind of salad girl.

I had my first taste of Quinoa about a month ago. Until then, this obscure little South American grain was just one of those highly priced exotic items that was never on my shopping list. I had no clue what to do with it either. And then, Bobby Flay happened. I stumbled upon his recipe for ‘Greek Quinoa salad’ on a website and loved the flavours he was playing with. Mine, however, is a bit more adventurous with the addition of honey in the vinaigrette, char-grilled peppers, and capers. I love the smoky-sweetness that complements the Quinoa wonderfully. If you have some fresh figs on hand, throw them in there too!

Although not very closely associated with its North African counterpart Couscous in terms of origin, I think it could act as a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on Quinoa. Also, Bulgur wheat is another option you could try.

Incorporating this wonder grain in your salad is a good way to get your daily dose of protein and it makes for a good foundation, especially if this dish is going to double up as a meal in itself. Which by the way, it totally could. This salad is one of those foods that is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts. Healthy and delicious! Hence the title reference. Continue reading