In my September e-newsletter, I wrote about the benefits of taking your lunch to work (i.e., brown bagging). I pack my own lunch every day (albeit in my BUILT Mini Lunch Tote), mostly because I prefer to, but also because the restaurant options within easy walking distance are either higher-end sit-down affairs or quick-and-easy caloric splurges.

I sometimes take leftover soup to work in the cooler months, but never in the summer…until this week. I was inspired by an interview with Penelope Cruz in the September InStyle to make gazpacho, a dish I’ve sort of avoided thus far in my life.* I had a mountain of ripe tomatoes in my garden to use up, and I was getting tired of spending hours cooking them down into tomato sauce. I wanted something quick, easy and delicious!

I did a web search for recipes, which vary widely (some use mostly tomato juice, which was NOT what I had in mind). I combined characteristics of a few different recipes to come up with this little winner. It was super easy, super tasty, and husband approved (that is significant, since he wasn’t so sure about the idea of a cold soup).

I used a food processor, but a blender would also work. I stopped processing when the mixture was quite liquidy, but I could still see tiny chunks of tomato, cucumber and yellow pepper. I ended up using about 2/3 cups of water, less than what many recipes suggested, but I think this depends on the type of tomato you use, as some tomatoes naturally have a higher water content.

We had the gazpacho the night I made it (Monday), then I took some to work Tuesday, and we had the rest that night. While it was best the first night, it was still very good the next day. I made more last night and we’ll be enjoying the leftovers for lunch today.


Rustic Gazpacho

4-6 servings


  • 6 ripe tomatoes (about tennis-ball size), cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 large cucumber (or 1 small), peeled, halved, seeded (if seeds are large) and cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, de-stemmed, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Hot sauce, to taste


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, oil, vinegar and 1/2 cup of water until coarsely pureed. If mixture is not liquid enough (this will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are), add more water.
  2. Season with salt and hot sauce to taste and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Serve with additional hot sauce.
*My first encounter with gazpacho was in the dorm cafeteria during undergrad at University of Oregon many moons ago. I thought “how weird” and steered clear. Somehow, the discordance of seeing what, when done well, is a light, fresh, lovely dish in a dorm cafeteria made me continue to avoid gazpacho all of these years. So thank goodness for that Penelope Cruz interview (“In Spain we eat gazpacho almost every day, so you get a lot of vegetables in a way that is very delicious.”).

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