The rain has lifted (at least temporarily) and the glorious sunshine this week has got us thinking about cool, refreshing desserts.
Granita(or Italian ice) fits the bill perfectly. It’s incredibly light and refreshing and doesn’t require any special equipment like an ice cream maker or popsicle molds. Once you make it, it can hang around in your freezer indefinitely, and requires no cooking or particular skill to make. We’ve tried countless varieties from espresso to meyer lemon to cardamon-plum. While pink grapefruit is still my personal reigning favorite, pomegranate (or “purple ice cream” as Luca calls it) might just be the current runner up. The color is absolutely gorgeous and the flavor is super delish — like a grape snow cone, but way, WAY better — and not an artificial color or flavor in sight. This is so easy that even a preschooler like Luca can do most of the work and making it gives him the chance to get his hands on the citrus squeezer and the whisk, his two very favorite kitchen tools.
Give it a try and experiment with you favorite flavors!
- 2 cups pomegranate juice (fresh if you’re ambitious or bottled. If juicing the fruit yourself, you will need to let it settle so you can strain off the sediment that accumulates)
- Juice of 1 large orange
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
- Mix all of these ingredients well in a plastic container that has a lid (wide and shallow is better, but you can get by with a 32 oz. yogurt container). Taste and adjust the flavorings to suit your taste.
- Put the lid on and pop it in the freezer.
- Mix the granita with a spoon every half hour until it is slushy and semi-frozen (3-4 times). Keep covered until ready to serve.
- To serve, scrape the fully frozen granita with the tines of a fork and serve in pretty little glasses or espresso cups.
Shopping List: 3 Pink Grapefruits (plus one for garnish), Sugar
Viva la pamplemousse! My family’s been on a big grapefruit kick this year. They seem to make their way to our dinner table 3-4 times a week. Such a great, refreshing dessert…. cut in half and you’re done. They need absolutely no amendment. In fact, I’ve yet to find a grapefruit recipe that I prefer to the fruit on its own. Luca loves using those little serrated spoons to scoop out the fruit, then squeezing out and drinking the juice. My husband and I both remember loving those spoons when we were kids, too.
The one grapefruit recipe I do make from time to time is granita (think Italian ice or frozen lemonade). It’s one of our favorite treats in Italy, but I wasn’t inspired to make it at home until I read Jeffrey Steingarten’s collection of culinary essays, “The Man Who Ate Everything“. He has an entire chapter devoted to granita and its history. (In case you’re curious, this slushy concoction dates back to the 1600’s and was popular across the Middle East and Europe). If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself drooling over his detailed descriptions of granitas from some of Sicily’s most famous gelaterias. Coffee granita and brioche for breakfast? Yes please!!!Luckily, it’s not too hard to make a decent granita at home. If you can juice a grapefruit and stir, you’re in business.
Pink Grapefruit Granita
(makes a little less than a quart)
- Dissolve 3/4 cup sugar (you could dial this back a bit depending on the tartness of your fruit) into 2 cups water.
- Finely zest half a grapefruit avoiding the white pith and add zest to sugar-water mixture.
- Juice 3 grapefruits (approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups juice). Add the juice to the sugar and water mixture. Stir well. Taste to make sure the flavor works for you.
- Pour into a freezer safe container. Wide and shallow is better because it will freeze faster.
- Stir well every hour to break up and mix in the ice crystals that form. You’ll need to do this 3-4 times until you have a nicely uniform, slushy consistency.
- Cover and let freeze solid.
- To serve, let defrost for a 5-10 minutes then scrape the top with a fork and scoop the fluffy ice into a small goblet or bowl. I like to serve mine in espresso cups.
- For some extra grapefruit tang, garnish with some grapefruit segments. As you cut the grapefruit garnish, reserve the juice and sprinkle over top.