The local farmers market today was filled with several varieties of stone fruit, rhubarb, strawberries, and melons. Melons were everywhere. Red, orange, green, and white. I grabbed whatever I could carry, I couldn’t help myself.
After washing, cleaning and cutting all of my veggies, I stared at the amount (and size of the fruit) that now rested upon my kitchen counter. I had room in the fridge for most of it, but with an over abundance of watermelon, I was forced to find another use for it. With several cups already cut up and stored in a glass container, I still had quite a bit left over. The weather today is quite spectacular and all I could think about was an “aqua fresca” with a bit of a kick. I went to work.
Limes are a household staple and with more than enough on hand, I started juicing. Freezing left over juice in ice cube trays gives me a head start on this Wednesday nights meal. Tequilla lime chicken is on the meal plan this week, and having one less step to do that day always puts a smile on my face.
Infusing fresh basil in a batch of simple syrup enhanced the watermelon flavor. I have had fresh watermelon aqua fresca at various events and restaurants and there have been those times when it simply tasted bland. Adding the basil to the simple syrup, seeping for at least 30 minutes, brought out the earthy flavors in the watermelon. In addition, I poured the watermelon puree through a fine mesh sieve. My kids don’t like pulp in their fresh squeezed o.j., nor do they like chunks in their smoothies. Didn’t want to cause any stress on such a lovely Sunday afternoon!
We love fresh fruit, homemade “sodas”. I make a variation of my pomegranate-cranberry soda for Friday night dinners, and the leftovers rarely last through the weekend. Using most of what I already had on hand; fresh basil, limes, and now this watermelon, I made a great drink for the kids. With a splash of chilled vodka, the adults had a drink that ushered them right into the beginning of summer.
Watermelon Fizzy Cocktail
6 cups watermelon puree, 1 medium watermelon
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
3/4 cup simple syrup
handful of fresh basil leaves
Vodka, I prefer Grey Goose
• make your simple syrup. in a small heavy bottom pot, combine 1 cup filtered water with 1 cup of organic pure cane sugar. bring to a boil over medium heat. once sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat. add a generous 1/2 cup of basil to the syrup and let steep for at least 30 minutes. remove leaves after 30 minutes and continue to let cool.
• juice your limes either by hand or with a juicer. set aside.
• set a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. set aside.
• remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into large chunks. add a couple of cups of watermelon to your blender and liquefy until no chunks remain. strain puree. repeat until all of your watermelon has been pureed.
• in a large, glass pitcher, combine watermelon puree, simple syrup, and lime juice. refridgerate until cold, about 2 hours.
• when ready to serve, fill a glass with ice. pour watermelon 3/4 of the way up the glass. for the kiddies – fill glass with seltzer water. for the mama’s and the papa’s – top off the glass with about 3 tablespoons of chilled vodka.
• garnish with lime wedges or fresh basil and a decorative straw!
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com