Here's why: you just can’t beat it for a summer treat. It’s Italian. It’s gorgeous. It can be sweet. It can be savory. It can be peppery hot, tart or just about anything in between. Use any fruit as a base – add some sugar and wine or liqueur for flavoring; how about cranberry with vodka? Lemon infused with rosemary? Spoon berry granita into melon halves. Chocolate granita served with cookies. Serve it in your prettiest glasses- martini, margarita, even glass coffee cups, if you have some.
And you can’t beat a savory granita. How about: a spoonful of wasabi granita on top of fresh oysters…. cucumber granita dropped into gazpacho…shrimp cocktail sauce granita served with shrimp. Always so simple to make, anyone can do it- it’s the flavors you decide to combine that make your granita individual.
Here are the basic instructions. They are the same for sweet or savory:
Pour your mixture into a 13"x 9" metal baking pan. Cover with cling wrap and place in a freezer. Freeze until icy around sides, but not solid (about half an hour). Using a fork, stir icy portions into middle of pan. Return to the freezer. Repeat this step, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, for about 1 1/2 hours. Using a fork, scrape granita into serving glasses or bowls. Use your choice of garnishes.
Some of my sweet granita favorites:
Coffee Granita: (If you have house guests, leave out the cognac and serve this for a breakfast first course with a spoonful of whipped cream.)
Ingredients: 2 cups warm espresso; ½ cup sugar; 2 tablespoons cognac; 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
Method: Dissolve the sugar in the warm espresso, add remaining ingredients and freeze according to basic instructions. Garnish with a mint leaf and some shaved chocolate.
Chocolate Granita: (For the chocoholic)
Ingredients: 4 cups water, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2/3 cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use MarieBelle) . Optional: 1 tablespoon amaretto, kahlua or cointreau.
Method: In this recipe, heat the water and stir in the other ingredients until dissolved. Cool first and then freeze using the basic instructions. I like a bit of whipped cream on top of this one.
Blood Orange Granita: (The color divine, the taste ambrosial.)
Ingredients: 3 cups blood orange juice; 1 cup water; 1 cup sugar
Method: Heat the water and dissolve the sugar. Add the blood orange juice, bring to room temperature and freeze according to basic instructions.
Pineapple/Buttermilk Granita: (An unusual but delicious change of pace.)
Ingredients: 2/3 cup sugar; 2 cups buttermilk; 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint; one 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice.
Method: Add sugar to the buttermilk and stir until dissolved. Stir in the mint and pineapple and freeze according to basic instructions. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Savory Tomato Granita: (An ultra chic first course for any summer meal)
Ingredients: 2 pounds ripe tomatoes; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 garlic clove, finely chopped; 1 teaspoon black pepper; 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar; 3 or 4 basil leaves, chopped.
Method: Chop the tomatoes and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients except the basil. Let macerate all day or overnight. Blitz in a blender in batches and then strain through a fine sieve. Add the chopped basil leaves and freeze according to the basic instructions.