Watermelon + Lemon Verbena Cooler
There's something so comforting about watermelon. Its the quintessential American summer fruit and one that brings back memories of being 3 years old, eating a slice of fresh watermelon in a kiddy pool--- juice dripping down my chin and all. The easiest method to enjoy this seasonal treat, is of course, to simply slice and eat. However, with so much in abundance this time of year, why not infuse its sweetness with an herbal kiss of lemon verbena!
A strong infusion of lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), is what gives this simple drink a little magic. Known for its uplifting smell and stomach soothing properties, its presence is another wonderful reminder that warm days are here. If you have an abundance of lemon verbena growing in your garden, definitely take the time to harvest the stalks and dry. They hold their flavor well and will add a touch of summer to infusions or herbal baths all year long.
Take this recipe as a starting point--- the herbal combinations are endless. You can infuse other herbs in season as you like, or add a splash of something boozy to take this from a mid-day refreshment to an evening party drink complete with sliced watermelon on the rim of your glass.
I can think of a few other options here, too. Make a double batch, reserving 1/2 the drink to put into ice cube trays or on a super hot day, make it a slushy by leaving it in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours and scrapping away the ice that forms on top, folding it into the juices. You can't go wrong with either of these options.
1 small seedless watermelon
1 big handful fresh lemon verbena leaves
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and pour over your lemon verbena leaves letting steep for 10-15 minutes, covered. Cut the watermelon in half, removing the rind and reserving the rest for eating. Chop the red flesh into chunks and add to a blender. Once the tea has steeped, add a few splashes to the watermelon to get it going. Blend so the watermelon is pureed then add the rest of the tea. Transfer to a large mason jar and keep in the fridge or freezer to cool. Oh and you'll notice a little pink froth that occurs from blending. Serve chilled.
Makes about 5 cups