Gazpacho, a summer favorite on many restaurant menus, is also perfect cooling soup for outdoor dining.
Chef David Burke of David Burke Orange Lawn in South Orange remembers back 30 years ago, when gazpacho was a hard sell even at the legendary River Café, where Burke, then 26, was the executive chef.
Burke believed in the humble peasant dish with its origins in Spain — then and now. He pioneered his own innovative version and based on the numerous times the dish is ordered in a single night at his namesake restaurant, he was right.
The dish’s wholesome main ingredients are farm fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumber and watermelon. Burke’s version of the classic summer dish is ramped up with elevated flavor profiles and a mouth-watering presentation that hits all the right notes, so much so it could easily be called an edible work of art.
“At that time people just didn’t know what it was, so I added cumin to make it more familiar. Cumin has an interesting fresh aroma,” said Burke. “That way it helped our servers sell it. They’d say, ‘If you like chili, you’ll love gazpacho.’ And it worked. We added smoked paprika for another layer of flavor. Then, a fruit like watermelon to make it refreshing and for a little sweetness, and gave it a bit of a kick with cayenne pepper.”
To make the dish more decadent for his fine dining restaurant, Burke suspends a skewer of poached jumbo shrimp, avocado, cherry tomato and red pepper on the on edges of the bowl. His riff on the soup makes it more of a sauce to the shrimp – a play on shrimp cocktail, he said – making the dish an appetizer rather than a traditional bowl of soup. For a final dramatic flair, the dish is presented to the table’s guests with only the colorful skewer in the bowl, and then the server pours the gazpacho from a teapot into the bowl.
The recipe below is adjusted for the home cook.
Tomato & Watermelon Gazpacho With Shrimp Skewers
● 12 large shrimp peeled and deveined with the tail removed
● 1 Tablespoon chives
● Large slices of avocado
● Cherry tomato
● Red pepper
5 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cubed watermelon
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons coarse or kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons quality mayonnaise, like Hellmann’s
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Three thin slices of cucumber
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until finely pureed. Depending on the size of your processor, you may have to do this in two or more steps. Reserve.
Shrimp poached in salted water for 5 minutes, then shocked in ice water. Assemble on a skewer in order shrimp, avocado, pepper, cherry tomato. Place skewer over gazpacho on the edges of the bowl. Place cucumber slices on top. Sprinkle chives over the skewer. Enjoy!
Outdoor dining at David Burke Orange Lawn
Dinner service under canopies at David Burke Orange Lawn is available at a new outdoor Garden Terrace from Tuesday – Sunday 5-9 p.m. Reservations required for Garden Terrace. Bar menu available only on the patio. Walk-ins for patio seating only, first come first serve. The restaurant is closed Monday.
Guests are required to wear masks when walking to and from your table. All proper NJ Health Department guidelines are in place for the safety of both staff members and guests. Some of these dining safety procedures will be taking guests’ temperatures and logging down the name, address and telephone number of all guests. Please call (973) 552-2280. Or, visit online www.dborangelawn.com The outdoor dining option will remain a permanent feature once the state allows indoor dining.
David Burke at Orange Lawn, Orange Lawn Tennis Club, 305 N Ridgewood Rd, South Orange, 973-552-2280
*The restaurant is open to the public with a $10 annual dining club enrollment fee. For more information, please call the restaurant (973) 552-2280.