Sunday, March 25, 2012

Popeye vs. Jack Lalanne.

Green and yellow, green and yellow - pineapple spinach agua fresca. © Ryan Schierling
I'll be honest with you. There's a hippie vegetarian joint in Austin that we have just recently, after two years of living here, begun infrequently frequenting. It took a chilaquiles recommendation from a friend to get us in the door. The surprise of the meal (yes, the chilaquiles were solid) was a rich, deep green, pineapple spinach agua fresca bubbling in a Lexan fountain of youth, that seemed to have superlative curative and monstrous restorative properties. We've been back on mornings where the night prior had us tying one on and dragging it around. 

The only problem is, they're closed on Sunday. And Sunday morning comes after Saturday night. 

So, we had some things to figure out. Pineapples, spinach, how hard could it be? Actually, not that hard at all. The wonderful thing about agua fresca is that it lets the fruit shine without much embellishment or added sugar, and it is an incredibly refreshing drink without being cloyingly Kool-Aid sweet. Fresh pineapple is amazing when juiced, and a little fresh spinach adds color and some vitamin C, calcium and fiber, folic acid, magnesium and lutein. 

Ahem. I'll be honest with you, again. I have historically had a problem with green beverages. I have barfed up wheatgrass juice and I'd rather drink compost tea than anything with spirulina in it. Sorry, healthy smoothie enthusiasts, unless I'm pouring an oatmeal stout into a blender with some ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and a shot of espresso, I don't want to have to chew what I'm drinking. But this green dynamo? All bets are off. 

Now, I imagine this restaurant has an industrial juicer that would put the trash compactor on the Death Star to shame. And if you happen to have a bad-ass, solar-powered, brushed stainless steel and polished chrome juicer autographed by Jack Lalanne, well then, good for you. We used a blender for this recipe and strained out most of the solids with a sieve – which is my least favorite thing in all of cooking, ever… pushing solids through a sieve… I sincerely, seriously hate it. But I love this juice.

Pineapple spinach agua fresca 

1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
2 cups fresh spinach, washed well
8 cups filtered water
1/4 cup honey 

Chop the top and bottom off of a whole, ripe pineapple. (But wait, how do I know when it's ripe? Well, the whole thing smells like pineapple. If it doesn't, let it sit on the counter for a few days until it does.) Cut the skin off, then cut the core out. Chop the pineapple into tidbit-sized chunks. You should end up with 5-6 cups of pineapple. Put this into the blender. Pack two cups of fresh spinach leaves in there with the pineapple. Add two cups of water to lubricate. If your blender has a "liquify" setting, now is the time to use it. Let it run until you're tired of hearing the blender whine, about 3 minutes. 

Get out a good-sized pitcher and a fine-mesh sieve. Place the sieve over the pitcher and slowly pour enough of the pineapple spinach liquid to fill it. With a spoon, begin pushing the pulp around until there's no viable liquid left, or you're pissed off enough to go buy a juicer. Continue straining until nothing's left in the blender. Add six cups of water and stir well. 

Add 1/4 cup honey to a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, and then put 1/2 cup of the green liquid in. Stir until the honey is dissolved, then add back to the pitcher. Stir well. As with any fresh fruit juice, the sweetness depends on how ripe the fruit is. You can add a little more honey to taste if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. 

It'll keep well for a few days, so make a batch Friday night, and come Sunday morning, you'll be thanking us. 


  1. Ryan, Have you had the sandia agua fresca at La Fruta Feliz? I did a series of tastings around Austin and they had the finest. Surprise!

  2. Nope, we've had the piña, as well as the fresa. I'll have to get watermelon next time we're there.

  3. Ryan and Julie, just have to say your blog's awesome. Of course, you know that already. Thought I'd pass The Versatile Blogger award on to you as an endorsement of sorts. More details on my blog, should you be interested in passing it on. Keep making me hungry, and I'll keep reading!

  4. OMG, I love this. Thank you so much for sharing.


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