Agua Fresca

I love talking food with my friend Michael M. at the Co-op – he is also an avid cook and is really good about making all kinds of things from scratch, including his own tortillas and refried beans (which I will be trying myself very soon).  Late last week he was telling me about how he makes Agua Fresca – a refreshing drink that is common in Mexico and Central America.  It is essentially a fruit, grain, and/or flower flavored beverage that is great on a hot (or warm, in our case) summer day.

Yummy local veggies!

The forecast predicted warmer temperatures and sunny skies for this weekend, and I thought that Agua Fresca sounded like a great recipe to demo.  We have so much delicious Washington grown fruit right now to choose from that the biggest decision was deciding what flavors to make!  With Michael’s sage advice, I decided on a couple different ones – watermelon, donut (or Saturn) peach and lime for the first and cantaloupe, cucumber, basil and lime for the second – and all ingredients except the lime were grown in-state.

Agua Fresca is extremely easy to make – simply peel and rough cut your chosen ingredients and throw them in the blender.  Once they are puréed, you strain it through either cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, add it back to the blender with a little sugar, and then into your pitcher with some water.  Once it is chilled (very important – it is best when served ice-cold) you are good to go – one sip and you feel like you should be sitting on a beach with a good book – you can almost hear the waves crashing in the background!

You can use any soft fruit (or vegetable) for this recipe, and you are only limited by your imagination.  This is a great way to use overripe fruit, as it will purée that much easier!  I’ve included the recipes for the two versions I made to sample for customers (who loved it – kids especially), but don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

Agua Fresca photo © Sassy Sampler 2011

Agua Fresca

Recipe courtesy of Michael Marques

INGREDIENTS

Watermelon/Peach

  • 1 “personal” watermelon, chopped
  • 3 donut peaches or 1 large peach, pitted and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2-4 T sugar *
  • Water

Cucumber/Cantaloupe

  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cantaloupe, seeded and chopped
  • 3-6 large leaves of basil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2-4 T sugar *
  • Water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare your fruit/herbs/vegetables.
  2. Add fruit/herbs/vegetables to blender and purée.
  3. Strain purée through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into your pitcher.  Get as much of the juice from the pulp as possible; discard pulp.
  4. Strain again, but back into the blender this time.  Add sugar, starting with 2T and blend until combined.  Taste mixture to see if you want to add more sugar.
  5. Pour mixture back into your pitcher.  Add enough water to fill container and mix.
  6. Chill completely and serve icy cold, preferably with crushed ice.

* you can use just about any sweetener – if you choose to use a liquid one like honey or agave syrup, then you should dissolve it in a little bit of hot water before mixing it into the purée.

Can’t you see the beach?

Agua Fresca translates literally as “fresh water”.  It is served all over Mexico and it very simple to recreate at home.  It is hard to mess up—you can add as much water as you like to make it thinner or thicker, depending on your personal tastes.  Comer con gusto!

Agua Fresca PDF


Watermelon Tomato Salad – say what?

That’s right, you read that correctly!  I made a huge batch of Watermelon Tomato Salad (Tomelon Salad?) and it wasn’t even a Friday the 13th punk!

I knew the weather was going to be warm today, and since we have such glorious local produce, I knew a refreshing salad would be the ticket.  I know what you’re thinking – how could watermelon and tomato (with green onions no less!) be combined into anything that anyone would want to eat?  I found the “recipe” in this month’s Bon Appétit magazine and had to try it.  I figured that since it was Bon Appétit that it had to be good, right?

Everyone who approached my sample station today was skeptical (well, except for the one customer who got all excited when he saw what I was sampling – he said his mom used to make a salad like this), and it was really fun to see their looks of wonder once they had tasted this unique concoction.  A coworker even told me that he doesn’t like watermelon OR tomatoes, yet was pleasantly surprised that he liked this salad.

Here is the recipe – I think it would be riot to take to a potluck with no explanation (it is technically a fruit salad after all, and it does taste great!).  It got a big thumbs up from the more than 40 people who sampled it, so take a chance!  I used local organic tomatoes from The Growing Garden, local organic green onions, seedless watermelon from Oregon, and goat feta cheese (which is a little milder).

Watermelon Tomato Salad Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Watermelon Tomato Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 c Watermelon

2 c Tomatoes

~ 1/4 c  green onions

1 T Lemon juice

2 T Extra-virgin olive oil

Feta cheese (to taste)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

1. Cut (seeded) watermelon and tomatoes into equal sized chunks until you have 2 cups of each.

2. Finely chop green onions until you have about a ¼ c.

3. Gently toss the watermelon, tomatoes, and green onions together in a bowl.

4. Refrigerate salad until you are ready to eat (chill at least a ½ hour or so).

5. Measure olive oil in a measuring cup and whisk in the fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently mix into the salad.

6. Sprinkle feta cheese on top (either on top of each serving or over the whole dish).

7. Enjoy!

Leftover watermelon?  Make some easy watermelon ice pops!  Simply fill your blender with chunks of watermelon (there is no need to remove the seeds).  Puree the fruit then pour it through a sieve, discarding the solids.  Add fresh lemon juice and sugar to taste, and then freeze them in molds.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad PDF