Cold Gazpacho soup in glasses (May 29, 2012)

We tend to think of the winter holidays as a time to create appetizers for those cocktail parties we like to host. But spring and summer have their appetizing merits, too. Casual outdoor-indoor get-togethers – for graduations, showers, even weddings, are perfect excuses to transform seasonal ingredients into walk-around foods that are stars of the gatherings we've planned.

Hence, our exercise du jour is to create some colorful, flavorful munchies that go beyond nachos and salsa.

We begin…

Fruited gazpacho

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Remember how "hot" gazpacho was in the late '70s? We recall those memories and update them with this "liquid salad" that stars both veggies and fruits. This hot-sweet concoction is zesty, cooling, colorful and healthy. What more could you want in one dish?

Be sure to serve it well chilled in a punch bowl, with cups for sipping and spoons for scooping up all the goodies.

P.S. We always felt that traditional gazpacho was really a very chunky Bloody Mary. So, it you want to create a Fruity Mary, add a "spirited" glow with some vodka and/or fruit liqueur.

P.P.S. If you have a gelatin mold, you can freeze some of the ingredients and a small amount of water to float in the punch bowl and help keep the gazpacho chilled.

2 1/4 cups finely chopped tomatoes (a scant 1 pound)

2 1/4 cups finely diced honeydew melon (scant 1 pound)

2 1/4 cups finely diced cantaloupe (scant 1 pound)

1 cup finely diced mango (1 medium)

1 cup finely diced, peeled, seeded cucumber (about 1 medium)

1 cup finely diced peaches (about 2 large)

1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice (can use store bought, not from concentrate), plus more juice to thin soup if desired

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion, e.g. Vidalia

Half of a cubanelle pepper (mild), finely chopped

1/3 cup chopped, fresh mint

3 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice