The hurricane that hit NYC caused most of the city to shut down over the weekend, so our anniversary plans changed from dinner out to dinner at home.  While everyone was stocking up on water and batteries, I was out buying a tenderloin.  Luckily, we were stocked with veggies from our crop-share.  We had a cucumber, green and red peppers and plenty of ripe tomatoes, so I decided to make a batch of gazpacho as our appetizer – my husband’s favorite!

Gazpacho, a chilled tomato-based raw vegetable soup, is perfect for a hot summer day.  It’s a healthy soup packed with lycopene, vitamin C and fiber.  Gazpacho is also great for entertaining because it can be made in a matter of minutes.  I like to chop all of the ingredients and put them in the fridge in a blender and blend right before serving.  Also, I put the soup bowls in the refrigerator so the soup stays cool for longer after I serve it.  You can serve this soup in bowls, mugs or, for a hip twist, in martini glasses.

Simple Gazpacho

4 large tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs), peeled

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 red bell pepper

1 small onion (or ½ medium onion)

2 Tbs. sherry vinegar

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbs. kosher salt

Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste

fresh-ground pepper to taste

Additional chopped cucumber and/or tomato for garnish (optional)

1.            To peel tomatoes:  Bring a small pot of water to a boil; cut an x into the bottom of each tomato and drop into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking; once cooled, peel skin from tomatoes.  Cut tomatoes in half and squeezing to remove seeds.

2.            Chop tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and onion into large chunks and place in blender.  Pulse until well combined but still slightly chunky.  Stir in vinegar, olive oil, salt, hot sauce and pepper, to taste.  Top with garnish (chopped tomato and/or cucumber), if using.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4 (serving = about 1 ½ C.)