Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Watermelon agua fresca

I’m jumping on the Cinco de Mayo bandwagon here. Sure, it’s about as meaningful a holiday in America as St. Patrick’s Day, but I am categorically in favor of any celebration where Mexican food is involved. Agua fresca is a simple and refreshing drink made with liquefied fruit combined with an acid and sometimes seeds, flowers, or other additives. It’s commonly sold at roadside stands in Mexico and Central America, and it's a great way to cool off on a hot day. I bet if you throw in some vodka, it could also make a killer cocktail.

2 1/2 lbs. seedless watermelon, cubed
1/4 cup superfine sugar, sugar, agave nectar, Splenda, etc.
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup ice cubes

Put everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Complicated, I know.

Strain the mixture over a pitcher or carafe. If your strainer is like mine, it might take a few minutes to strain it all, but it’s worth it.

Serve in tall, frosty glasses, garnished with a slice of the lime if you like. It's sweet and summery, and makes the perfect foil for spicy Mexican food.

Yield: about 6 servings. Per serving: 91 calories, trace fat, 23g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

P.S.—If you're looking for something fast and festive to fix tonight, try what I did last night. In a large skillet or saucepan, combine 1 can chili beans (with sauce), 2 cans rinsed and drained black beans, 1 can rinsed and drained sweet corn (Mexi-corn would be great here), and 1 undrained can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Add about a tsp of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper if you want it hot. If you'd like to include some fresh veggies, sauté up a chopped onion and green pepper before adding everything else to the skillet. Heat and serve with tortilla chips or warmed corn or flour tortillas, plus any other accompaniments you want, like salsa, soy sour cream, chopped avocado, etc. ¡Olé!

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