Before the fall chill sets in, hold on to the summer as long as you can with this quick and delicious snack incorporating late summer produce. Healthy, fresh gazpacho finds a hearty, scrumptious partner in crunchy cheese croutons.

Ingredients
1 c tomato juice
1 persian cucumber- peeled and cut into chunks
1 small green pepper- remove seeds and dice
1 smalll red pepper- remove seeds and dice
1 plum tomato- diced
1T red wine vinegar
¼ c olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika *optional but a fun spice to have on hand!
1 large zucchini- cut into 1 inch cubes
Six thick slices whole grain bread- cut into 1 inch cubes
4 oz grated manchengo cheese (or another hard cheese such as parmesan)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Have a blender ready and a baking sheet lined with foil

2. In a blender, combine tomato juice, cucumber, both peppers, tomato, vinegar, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and 1 tsp smoked paprika if using. Blend on HIGH while drizzling in ¼ cup olive oil. Blend for a total of about 30 seconds until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, toss bread and zucchini chunks with 2 T olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking oil, then top with the grated cheese . Bake in oven at 325 until bread is crisp and zucchini is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 5 minutes.

4. Serve croutons and zucchini with toothpicks or fondue skewers to dip in gazpacho for a great snack or appetizer that is tasty and full of nutrients!

Kate Homes, a professionally trained chef at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, founded the New York-based personal chef service, Carried Away, a company that provides professionally trained chefs for weekly in home meal preparation, private dinner parties and group cooking demonstrations. Kate and her team specialize in helping busy families eat healthy, delicious and convenient meals. Carried Away is the missing link between what your nutritionist tells you to eat and the food you actually crave!