Recipe: Watermelon granita dessert is refreshing and refreshingly easy
Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com
A post from Ann Arbor Food last week caught my attention: "Is this the summer of watermelon? Now, maybe my taste buds are going wonky, but it seems that these have been the best in years."
I ran right out and picked out one of those cute mini watermelons at my neighborhood produce market and served some to my 9 year old and his buddy. Then I served them some more. And even more. Before I knew it, the entire four-pound melon had been devoured. I had confirmation: these are good melons.
I started brainstorming recipes to make use of this delicious fruit. The benefit to watermelons, of course, is that they are so perfectly sweet and delicious on their own. But I was looking for something a little bit more sophisticated to serve with the dinner I was making for Father's Day.
I found my answer in a classic Sicilian dessert called granita.
As one of my favorite food bloggers, Smitten Kitchen, enthused: "Granitas are a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine of our kid dreams. They're the perfect antidote to the sticky, oppressive summer days to come ... tossing out that annoying plastic crank in favor of the unbranded simplicity of two forks and a roasting pan, and swapping the unnatural syrups in frightening hues for fresh fruit juice."
Granitas are simply a combination of fruit juice, sugar and water, frozen solid and then scraped with a fork into a bowl. It's really that easy, and nearly as satisfying (or possibly more) as ice cream or sorbet. The great thing about watermelon is that you don't even need to add water, since (as the name would imply) the watermelon supplies an ample amount of the stuff. The only trick is making sure you pick a nice, ripe melon.
My friend Dee has a knack for picking out ripe melons, so I turned to her for help in picking the perfect fruit for this recipe. Dee tells me it's all about the weight, color and the tone. Look for a melon that's a nice deep green in color. Pick it up. Is it heavy for its size? That's another good sign. Finally, you want to make sure the melon sounds good.
"You have to thump it! Hold it in your hand away from your body and knock on it," explained Dee. You're looking for a nice deep tone. If the melon has a high-pitched sound, or it the thump sounds more like a thud, the melon isn't ripe. "You will have to thump a couple to hear the differences in sound."
Unlike some other fruits, watermelons do not continue to ripen once they have been picked, so make sure the melons you pick are ripe when you buy them.
Watermelon Granita (adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
- 4 cups (1 3/4 pounds) cubed seedless watermelon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9x9x2 inch metal baking pan. Freeze the mixture for 1 hour. Stir, mashing any frozen parts with the back of a fork. Cover and freeze the mixture until firm, about 2 hours. Using a fork, scrape the granita vigorously to form icy flakes. Serve immediately in chilled bowls or martini glasses.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover tightly with foil and keep frozen. Give it a quick scrape before serving.
Jessica Webster leads the Food & Drink section for AnnArbor.com. You can reach her at JessicaWebster@AnnArbor.com for questions, recipe suggestions or general feedback.
Added bonus: What's a post about watermelons without a great version of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man"?