How about now? Looks delicious, doesn't it? It tastes just as good as it looks too. Cool, refreshing... exactly what you need on a hot summer day.
The best part is the ease of the recipe... only 10 minutes from start to finish, but people will think you slaved for hours. This is a great beverage for impressing guests, or the in-laws.
What is this bounty of goodness, you wonder? Why, it's agua fresca (or fresh water in Spanish), commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico and Central America. In this particular case, I've made Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca.
Frescas can be made from many, many different fruits. Maybe next time I'll try watermelon, or papaya... perhaps mango or pineapple. The choices are endless. And all of them are yummy! But for today, we'll stick with the cucumber and mint, since those are the ingredients I found in my fridge.
The ingredients are simple: 2 cucumbers (plus one more for garnish), 12 mint leaves (plus more for garnish), 4 cups of cold water, 1 lime, and a bit of sugar (not pictured, oops).
To start, peel two of the cucumbers. I use a regular veggie peeler, it works great! Then, chop up the pieces and toss it all in a blender. Don't worry about the seeds for now.
A couple other items need to make their way into the blender too: your 12 mint leaves, 2 cups of the water, and the juice from your lime. I don't get fancy when juicing the lime. I just cut it in half and squeeze it right over the blender. No worries about the seeds, either. We'll take care of that later.
Next step? Blend away!
It only takes a few pulses before everything is liquified. You want to let this mixture sit for a little bit, so all the flavors blend together. I left mine for about 10 minutes, but as long as you wait a good 5 minutes, everything will be fine. Anything less than that is asking for disaster (kidding, kidding!).
At this point, the mix should look a little something like this:
If you've left the green goo alone for a while, it can be strained now. You want to use a fine mesh strainer... trust me on this. The objective here is to get all the juice, but as little of the pulp and seeds as possible. Here's what mine looked like before and after:
|Before and after|
On the left, we have the green, slushy goo. On the right, yummy goodness.
Almost done now!
Here, you have a choice to make. You can either add in the last two cups of water, or you can add a little sparkle with some seltzer water instead. The choice is up to you. I went with still water today, and likely always. Bubbles make me sneeze.
You might also want to mix in a bit of sweetener. You can use sugar, Splenda, Equal, even agave nectar. Whatever floats your boat. I naturally gravitate to the straight sugar. A couple tablespoons is all I need, but you add as much or as little as you like.
Stir it all together, and that's it! Yummy goodness, ready for consumption.
If you want to be 'fancy' with your presentation, it's easy. Grab a hurricane glass, or some other bar glass. Use a mandolin to thinly slice your extra cucumber. Fill the glass with a combination of ice, sliced cucumber, and mint leaves. Top with the agua fresca, then add a lime wedge to the side of your glass.
Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca!
So, don't let yourself melt this summer. Whip up a batch of these babies and listen to your friends oohhh and ahhhh over your crazy culinary skills.
The Standard Form:
Cucumber Mint Agua Fresca
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
12 fresh mint leaves
4 cups cold water
1 lime, juiced
Sugar, to taste
For garnish: 1 cucumber, thinly sliced. Extra mint leaves. Lime wedges.
Add the chopped cucumber, mint leaves, lime juice, and 2 cups of the water to a blender. Blend until mostly smooth. Allow mixture to rest for at least 5 minutes, and up to 30 minutes.
Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Combine the strained juice with the remaining 2 cups of water. Sweeten to taste.
Serve in a tall glass with ice, sliced cucumber, and mint leaves. Add a lime wedge to edge of glass.