August 8, 2014 at 1:00 am

Simply the Best

Watermelon makes good tomato sub in gazpacho

Tired of waiting for tomatoes? Try fresh watermelon gazpacho. (National Watermelon Promotion Board)

As a frustrated tomato grower and an avowed gazpacho lover, I am sick and tired of waiting around for the crop to come in. The weather is the culprit, I know, but when I spied one lonely Early Girl about to fully ripen on the vine only to discover it an hour later in the jaws of a squirrel, I knew it was going to be rotten season for tomatoes. (Later, the half-eaten tomato sat in the driveway as a final insult.)

So, I did the next best thing; I purchased a fresh watermelon and decided to make watermelon gazpacho. Aside from being sweet and affordable, watermelon has it all going on over the tomato.

According to the USDA, watermelon is the lycopene leader among fresh produce. Lycopene is a red pigment that occurs naturally in certain plants. On average, watermelon has about 40 percent more lycopene than raw tomatoes, and in addition to giving watermelon and tomatoes their color, it is also thought to act as a powerful antioxidant.

The National Watermelon Promotion Board has long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides with its excellent levels of vitamins A (eye health and immunity booster) and C (fights infections) and a good level of vitamin B6 (helps system produce antibodies). Oh, and 2 cups of watermelon is also a source of potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell, and, heres the best part, its only 80 calories.

OK, but health issues aside, watermelon makes a great gazpacho thats easy to prepare and is so refreshing. If I were a tomato, Id be worried.

Watermelon Gazpacho

Recipe adapted from National Watermelon Promotion Board.

5 cups chopped Seedless Watermelon
cup chopped yellow onion
cup chopped green peppers (can use red, yellow or orange peppers)
teaspoon salt
teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
teaspoon chili powder
cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoon chopped jalapeno
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup finely chopped seedless watermelon, reserved for garnish
cup finely diced avocado, reserved

Puree the first 10 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Stir in the finely chopped watermelon and avocado at serving time. Serves 6.

Per serving: 87 calories; 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat); 15 g carbohydrates; 14 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 205 mg sodium; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber.

KLawson@detroitnews.com