Pitaya bowl with almond butter and granola...
Pitaya bowl at the Farm Fresh Juice Company...
Pitaya bowl on a beach in Hawai'i...
Pitaya bowl served IN a papaya...
*heart eyes* Clearly, I'm a huge fan of this fruit. But then I realized...I want to try something different with it! It'd be a perfect ingredient for a bright, summery, and refreshing drink! I finally got around to making that drink and am so excited to share it with you all...Pink Pitaya Lemonade!
In case you're wondering WHAT THE HECK is pitaya, here's a quick rundown:
- "Pitaya" is the name you see most often in juice bars and for smoothie bowls. In Asian markets, it's also commonly known as "dragonfruit."
- You can eat it fresh, or buy it frozen. (My go-to brand is Pitaya Plus, for their cubes and smoothie packs.)
- The texture (to me, at least..) is like a cross between a melon and a kiwi (especially with all of the tiny seeds). The flavor, though, is actually very mild, so it plays nicely when blended with a lot of other fruits.
- Pitaya is also a good source of antioxidants and fiber, and it's naturally low in sugar and calories.
To sweeten the lemonade, I made a batch of vanilla bean simple syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine equal parts sugar and water. Slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then slide the back of your knife along the bean, digging out all the tiny flecks of vanilla. Add all of that and the now-empty pod into the pan as well. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture begins to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes, then strain the syrup into a jar, bottle, or another container you prefer.
You can also use alternative sweeteners, like honey or agave, but I was pleasantly surprised to find how well the vanilla bean and pitaya worked together. So give it a try! It's also great with iced coffee and tea!
Finally, the lemons! For this recipe, you'll need 1 cup of freshly-squeezed juice. Nothing says summertime quite like lemonade! And when your kitchen smells like lemons and vanilla, it's heaven. <3
All that's left to do is pour the lemon juice, water, and vanilla syrup into a pitcher or carafe. Depending on how tart your lemons are and how sweet you like your lemonade, I'd recommend starting with 3/4 of a cup of syrup. Taste, then you can always add more if you prefer.
The last ingredient is the pitaya! To make serving easier, just add 1 cup of blended pitaya to the pitcher and stir it all up. On the other hand, for presentation, you can add a couple spoonfuls of blended pitaya OR frozen pitaya cubes to the bottom of individual glasses. Add a layer of crushed ice, then pour in the lemonade. You get a cool ombre effect with the colors! This is great for wowing guests at backyard bbq's or outdoor dinner parties!
However you choose to serve it, Pitaya Pink Lemonade is so bright and refreshing! (Seriously, THAT GORGEOUS COLOR.) I love the combination of the tart lemon, sweet vanilla, and fresh pitaya, and this will be such a fun addition to your drink rotation this summer! Cheers!
Pitaya Pink Lemonade (makes 1.5 quarts)
Vanilla Bean Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6-7 lemons)
4 cups water
3/4-1 cup vanilla bean syrup
1 cup blended pitaya
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Slice a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then slide the back of your knife along the bean, digging out all the tiny flecks of vanilla. Add all of that and the now-empty pod into the pan as well. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture begins to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it cool for a few minutes, then strain the syrup into a jar, bottle, or another container you prefer.
- To make the lemonade, pour the lemon juice, water, pitaya, and 3/4 cup of vanilla bean syrup into a pitcher or carafe. (Add more syrup if you prefer a sweeter lemonade.) Stir to combine.
- Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve over crushed ice and garnish with fresh lemon slices!