Watermelon Agua Fresca

TRUTH: It can be really hard to maintain a burgeoning food blog when your work load has increased at the office. (Ahem…) My post-work social calendar has been full, and I also traveled up to Vermont a couple of weekends ago for an aunt’s wedding reception. When I get home on any average weeknight, I’m a tired panda. The spirit is willing, yet I only have the energy to make the same cucumber-Greek yogurt salad with sliced avocado, followed by a copious amount of Cabot cheddar cheese.

Girl, get it together!

Luckily, I can say that my aforementioned trip to Vermont provided me some unlikely inspiration for this new recipe, and there isn’t a lick of maple syrup in it.

watermelon

I’m a Yelp Elite, and when I know I’m going to a new city, I research restauant options with more passion and vigor than I put into my entire two years of grad school. (Slightly tongue in cheek, but…there is an iota of truth to that…) Burlington was where I was setting my sites, and The Penny Cluse was on the top of my list; I was drawn in by their online menu boasting Bucket – O – Spuds, which was their take on nachos, swapping out tortilla chips for scalloped potatoes. It…was an experience. I’m currently conjuring up a way to convince them to open a second restaurant in Manhattan. In the mean time, I can fantasize about that breakfast and look at Instagram whenever I’m feeling nostalgic. That morning, lo and behold, they had Watermelon Agua Fresca as a breakfast special.

Watermelon Agua Fresca from The Penny Cluse in Burlington, Vermont, Instagrammed to death.

Watermelon Agua Fresca from The Penny Cluse in Burlington, Vermont, Instagrammed to death.

My love of this goes back many years. A former roommate used to make fresh watermelon juice, rind and all, back in our old Washington Heights apartment in 2009. The former Rockaway Taco made a kick-ass Watermelon Agua Fresca as well; it was so good, it was usually sold out whenever I got to the front of that well-known hour+ line. (Oh, I would settle for tacos instead…heh…)

Watermelon Agua Fresca from the old Rockaway Taco, May 26th, 2014. Perfect juice. Perfect hair. That was a good day.

Watermelon Juice from the old Rockaway Taco, May 26th, 2014. Perfect juice. Perfect beach hair. That was a good day.

At the Penny Cluse, I threw back that pint of cold dark pink refreshment and thought to myself, “Hey! I can make this at home!”

Sho’ ’nuff.

watermelon agua fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca
(Adapted from The New York Times recipe for Watermelon or Cantaloupe Agua Fresca)
(Makes approximately 40 oz.)

Ingredients:

– 4 cups of fresh watermelon, cubed
– 3 cups of cold water, separated into two 1 & 1/2 cup servings
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– Juice of one half lemon

Before We Get Started:

– This recipe requires straining, so be sure to have a fine to medium mesh strainer and a bowl in which to drain the juice into. The bowl should hold at least 1.5 liters (48 ounces). A rubber spatula works well to press any excess water out of the remaining watermelon pulp. No spatula? Use the heel of your hand. (Just be sure to wash your hands, first! I work in infection control. I’d be a traitor to my profession if I did not mention that. 😉 )

watermelon agua fresca

Directions:

1.) Add cubed watermelon, lemon juice, sugar, and one 1 & 1/2 cup serving of cold water into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, approximately one minute.

2.) Place stainer over bowl, and pour watermelon mixture into strainer, allowing juice to collect in bowl. Press down on watermelon pulp to remove excess juice.

3.) Combine the second serving of cold water with the watermelon juice and stir.

4.) Place Watermelon Agua Fresca into container; refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Serve over ice.

watermelon agua fresca

It’s important to garnish your Watermelon Agua Fresca with a piece of watermelon the same height as your glass.

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