On a hot summer day, few things are more refreshing than a slice of fresh watermelon. The only thing more refreshing than the melon itself is a generous serving of Watermelon Granita. Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made by freezing a mixture of water, sugar and flavoring (usually fruit puree or fruit juice) and stirring as it freezes to created a crystalline, slightly chunky mixture. The result is somewhere between smoothie and shaved ice, and it is a terrific way to turn fresh fruit into a summer dessert.
This Watermelon Granita starts with fresh watermelon, and plenty of it. The melon is pureed with a little bit of lime juice, some sugar and a pinch of salt. Once everything comes together into a smooth puree – and this can be done easily in a food processor or a blender - the mixture goes into a flat dish dish and into the freezer. I stir my granitas every 30 minutes as they freeze, to spread out the ice crystals as they form. This makes for a little chunkier granita that is a little easier to scrape and serve. You can also simply stir them once or twice and allow them to freeze solid, then use a sharp spoon to scrape the granita into crystals when you’re ready to serve it. This method takes a slightly longer freezing time. It will depend on your freezer and how deep your dish is, but it typically takes about two or three hours or so to freeze the granita.
You’re going to get the best results from this recipe if you start with a really good melon, of course, but turning an average melon into granita is a fabulous way to improve it. The hint of lime juice is just enough contrast with the melon flavor that the granita will taste even more watermelon-y than fresh melon! Serve this as dessert, a refreshing finish to a meal on a hot day. You can also top it with a shot of rum or splash of champagne to turn it into a summery cocktail.
8 cups watermelon, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until very smooth, 2-3 minutes.
Pour into a flat, shallow dish (a pyrex baking or casserole dish is a great choice) and place the dish flat in the freezer.
Stir granita once every 20-30 minutes to distribute the ice crystals. When granita is almost entirely frozen, about 2-3 hours, it can be scraped out with a large spoon into serving dishes.
Granita can also be stored in the freezer, covered, for at least a week if you want to make it in advance.