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Beat the heat with a pitcher of cooling agua fresca

Refreshing and herbal, this drink can stand on its own, or you could spike it with something alcoholic.

The amount of diced watermelon, when blended and strained, should yield 8 cups of juice. Melons that are riper than others may yield far more liquid, so you might end up using between 12 and 14 cups of the diced fruit.

The drink can be refrigerated a day in advance.

WATERMELON-BASIL AGUA FRESCA

12 servings

Flesh of 1 medium watermelon, cut into chunks (about 16 cups)

1 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 6 limes)

3 ounces peeled, fresh ginger root (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

16 basil leaves, plus more for garnish

4 cups water

Combine half the watermelon, lime juice, ginger, sugar, salt and basil leaves in a high-powered blender; blend on high speed for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl and use a flexible spatula to push the mixture through. Discard the solids.

Repeat with the remaining fruit, juice, ginger, sugar, salt and basil.

Transfer the strained juice to a pitcher. Add the water and stir to blend well. Refrigerate until well chilled.

PER SERVING: 90 calories; 0 g total fat; 0 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 25 mg sodium; 24 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 19 g sugars; 1 g protein.

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