The local farmers market was filled with several varieties of stone fruit, rhubarb, strawberries and melons. Melons were everywhere: red, orange, green, 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 refrigerator for most of it, but with an overabundance 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. The weather was quite spectacular, and all I could think about was an “aqua fresca” with a bit of a kick. I went to work.
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, steeping for at least 30 minutes, brought out the earthy flavors in the watermelon. In addition, I poured the watermelon purée through a fine mesh sieve. My kids don’t like pulp in their fresh squeezed orange juice, nor do they like chunks in their smoothies. I didn’t want to cause any stress on such a lovely afternoon.
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 heart of summer.