Contributor Katie Cizewski - Meatless Monday, Strawberry Gazpacho

Strawberry Gazpacho Our contributor Katie Cizewski - Meatless Monday, Strawberry gazpacho

Happy Labor Day everyone! The summer may be wrapping up but it seems like the heat is just setting in to New York. Are you having friends over to celebrate the holiday? Gather around the table to eat but don't bother with the stove or the grill this time. You can make a delicious and impressive raw meal with the fruits of the summer - literally. Strawberry gazpacho is one of those dishes that is surprising at first but then once you start eating it you wonder why it isn't a classic summer staple. The sweetness of the strawberries is the perfect match for the bite of the peppers and if you like a little heat then add some Tabasco, this cold soup recipe calls for it.

The history of gazpacho is a long one but it seems to have begun in the south of Spain, along the Mediterranean. Tomato was not originally a part of the recipe for this cold soup and though it may be the ingredient that made gazpacho so popular, it is the ingredient that is now being pushed back out to make way for modern variations, such as this strawberry gazpacho. The first wave of gazpacho, before the tomato hit the European continent, was a cold soup made of stale bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Once the tomato was introduced other summer vegetables soon followed and the recipe took on many variations. More recently, fruits such as watermelon, grapes, and strawberries have been added to the mix and now gazpacho can be sweet, savory, spicy, refreshing, or all of the above - this strawberry gazpacho is. Here's the recipe...

2 pounds of strawberries, chopped 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 1 cucumber, chopped 1/2 clove garlic, crushed 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil salt and Tabasco to taste 1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries dressed in extra virgin olive oil (garnish)

Chop, crush, and mix all the ingredients together by hand and then refrigerate. Once chilled, throw the mixture in the food processor and blend until smooth. Divide into six bowls and top with the strawberry garnish and eat! Your guests will love this unique summer dish and they won't even notice that it's vegan and raw.