Gazpacho, a cold soup made from healthy raw ingredients, is a summer staple on many restaurant menus today. And especially now in the Garden State with the influx of super farm-fresh seasonal produce combined with the demand for refreshing, hot weather dishes for outside dining, a state-mandated requirement for restaurants due to the pandemic until inside dining is allowed.
But 30 years ago, says world-renowned celebrity Chef David Burke, gazpacho was a hard sell even at the legendary River Café, where he was the 26-year-old executive chef. But Burke, a leading pioneer in forming our country’s New American cuisine, was convinced that his innovative version of the peasant dish with its origins in Spain was destined to be a winner. And judging by the numerous times the dish is ordered in a single night at his namesake restaurant David Burke Orange Lawn, 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 then suspended 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.
Dinner service under canopies at David Burke Orange Lawn – NJ Monthly’s critics’ choice for the state’s 30 best restaurants – 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.
David Burke Orange Lawn’s new, elegant, Garden Terrace makes a stunning al fresco dining area. It is surrounded by beautiful potted flowers and twinkling lights suspended above tables for the ultimate in romantic outdoor dining. There is also a new patio area to enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while waiting for your table. (A bar menu is available only at the patio. Walk-ins for patio seating only, first come first serve.) This dining experience, with a world-class menu and service to match, is located at one of New Jersey’s – indeed one of our country’s – most iconic and historic sites, Orange Lawn Tennis Club. It is the second oldest tennis club in the United States on a stunning 16-acre campus of manicured lawns, tennis courts and century-old, legacy trees.
But, please remember that the Garden Terrace is subject to those refreshing evening breezes, so please bring along a sweater, shawl or light jacket for your comfort. Guests are required to wear masks when walking to and from your table. 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.
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.
Dinner Under the Stars Tuesday – Sunday 5-9 p.m. Reservations required for Garden Terrace. Walk-ins for patio seating only, first come first serve. Closed Mondays.
WHERE: David Burke at Orange Lawn, Orange Lawn Tennis Club, 305 N Ridgewood Rd, South Orange, NJ 07079 (973) 552-2280
In addition to David Burke Orange Lawn, Chef Burke’s other restaurants at iconic New Jersey locations are: Drifthouse by David Burke and Nauti Bar by David Burke, Sea Bright, oceanfront; Son Cubano, West New York, waterfront views of NYC skyline, and Ventanas, Fort Lee, on a park nestled between one of the world’s highest twin-tower projects.
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!
*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.