How to Make Pineapple-Parsley Agua Fresca

Intrepid culinary explorer and Mexican street food expert Lesley Téllez shares her secrets for making this ultra-refreshing fruit drink.

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Photo By: ALTA23

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: Heather Ramsdell ©Food Network 2016

Photo By: ALTA23

Sweet Sips

"Every market in Mexico City has a juice-milkshake stand where they make drinks from scratch," says Téllez. Moving to the city after leaving a newspaper job in Dallas, she found the abundance a revelation. "Mexican beverages are super-varied and seasonal, and very fresh. I didn't realize the depth that existed." New to the area and without a car, she crisscrossed the city on foot. "That's when I saw all the food everyone ate on the street. It was woven into the fabric of the city," she says. Her curiosity turned into a blog, which turned into a culinary tour company, which turned into her first book, Eat Mexico. In it, Téllez celebrates the vivid flavors of the tamales, tlacoyos, enchiladas and other street foods she loves making and eating. Here's her take on an agua fresca, the popular fruit-and-water drink, as she demonstrated on a recent visit to our Food Network Kitchen.

Photography by Heather Ramsdell

Start Fresh

"Pineapple is so sweet and juicy; it makes the perfect drink. Using fresh pineapple is key," says Téllez, filling up the carafe of a blender with cut-up chunks. Some aguas frescas include herbs. "In this case, the parsley is a digestif."

Add Water

"Use less rather than more at first," Téllez counsels. "You don't know how juicy your fruit will be."

Blend Until Smooth

"Part of the culture of Mexico is to eat fresh fruit and fresh juice," says Téllez, who grew up in California and discovered Mexican cuisine as an adult. "Aguas frescas are made with seasonal fruit — but a lot of the fruit in Mexico is in season year-round."

Taste As You Go

"You want a nice balance, so you are tasting both the pineapple and the parsley," says Téllez. She adds more of the leafy greens and blends again.

Add Sugar to Taste

"If the fruit is sweet enough, you aren't going to need sugar," says Téllez. "And don't feel hemmed in by white sugar. You can use agave, honey, raw sugar or stevia." She tends toward the minimal: "If it's too sweet, it's not drinkable."

Check the Consistency

"You don't want this agua fresca to be too thick," says Téllez, adding a little more water to the blender carafe. "It should be thinner than a milkshake."

Serve Cool

You can refrigerate the drink before serving, or pour it over ice. "It's common to serve these drinks slightly chilled — not super cold like the drinks in the United States," says Téllez. "They're not meant to be gulped down. It's supposed to complement your meal."

Get the Recipe: Agua de Pina con Perejil (Pineapple-Parsley Cooler)

More from Lesley Téllez

Once you've mastered Téllez's refreshing agua fresca, try your hand at her favorite street snack, tlacoyos, fried masa cakes that pair perfectly with her salsa verde and salsa roja.