Hot summer days call for cool refreshing drinks, and Salvadoran “Refresco de Ensalada” (also known as Agua de Ensalada, Salad Drink, Salad Water, or Fruit Salad Drink), is like drinkable fruit salad. The tiny pieces of minced fruit are not to be swallowed! Sip the sweet liquid, and then savor the apple, mango, pineapple, and orange pieces that find their way onto your tongue. It’s a drink and a snack all at once! Assemble your fruit and get chopping!
Refresco de Ensalada
1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in 100% pineapple juice
1 mango, peeled
2 Granny Smith apples
juice of 1 lemon
6 cups cold water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Optional: iceberg lettuce
(See notes for additional variations!)
1. Put the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mince the apples into tiny, uniform pieces (as you see in the photo below.) Stir the minced apple into the lemon juice as you go along. (This keeps them from turning brown.)
3. Peel the mango. Mince. Add to the bowl.
4. Open the can of pineapple. Pour the juice into the bowl.
5. Mince the pineapple and add to the bowl.
6. Squeeze the juice of 2 oranges into the bowl. (Do this over a sieve to avoid seeds falling in.)
7. Mince the remaining orange and add it to the bowl.
8. If using lettuce, add 1 cup of minced lettuce to the bowl. (I kept mine on the side and added it to my individual cup later since Carlos didn’t want it in his.)
9. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a large pitcher. Add 6 cups of water.
(Note: Once we drank all of the liquid, we later added another couple cups of water to finish off the fruit, so you’re able to add more than 6 cups of water, but you’ll have increase the sugar and salt in the next steps if you do.)
10. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir. (I prefer to keep the juice as natural as possible without adding too much additional sugar and it tasted great to me with 1/3 cup. Some may prefer this drink sweeter and you may add sugar to your personal tastes. Carlos added sugar every time he drank a cup of it but my boys and I liked it without adding more. If your fruit is super sweet, you may find you don’t want to add any sugar at all.)
11. You can drink this immediately, but it tastes best if you put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, (and even better if you can wait until the next day.) Serve cold.
(I like lettuce in mine. It sounds odd, but give it a try!)
Other variations of this recipe typically include mamey, marañon, watercress (“berro”), and even cucumber. Feel free to experiment by adding your favorite fruits and vegetables, or fresh herbs like mint.