Market ingredient: basil
Difficulty: a little messy (although that’s perhaps just me) and you need 2 days
Did The Beard like it? “It needs more rosewater”. But then again, he thinks life needs more rosewater.
Who doesn’t love a granita? A cheat’s alternative to a sorbet, all icey and delicious. I know I do. This recipe is adapted from a much-loved and highly utilised Stephanie Alexander (the other Stephanie) recipe, straight cookbook of biblical proportions, The Cook’s Companion.
This is honestly SUCH an easy dessert and tends to impress. I’ve adapted Stephanie’s recipe with a couple of flavour additions: basil & rosewater. I just love the combo of basil with the watermelon. You don’t need much, but it’s a lovely alternative to the more typical watermelon-and-mint combo. Not that mint wouldn’t be equally as beautiful in this recipe. Or try your own fruit-and-unexpected-herb combo. Just remember that your fruit puree-to-sugar-syrup ratios will have to change if you’re not using watermelon – it’s such a watery fruit.
Either way, it’s a jewel-coloured refreshing dessert that is perfect in summer. I’ve kept the rosewater addition to this VERY subtle – in my experience you either love rosewater or hate it, so didn’t want to over do it. You could always add more to your own liking. Serve with a dollop of rich double cream, a lovely vanilla icecream, or just eat on it’s own. YUMMO.
Ingredients for Watermelon, basil & rosewater granita
- 500g watermelon
- 1/3 cup of heavy sugar syrup (see step 1 of instructions)
- Handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 tspn rosewater.
- To make the sugar syrup, place equal parts sugar & water in a saucepan. Heat the water until just boiled and all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. Please note: unless you want to keep sugar syrup for something else, use somewhere between ½ to 1 cup of sugar & water to make 1/3 cup of heavy sugar syrup.
- Remove the watermelon flesh from the rind, chop into large pieces and place in a large bowl. Take about 6 large fresh basil leaves and add to the bowl. Using an electric bar mix, blend the watermelon and basil until the liquid is no longer lumpy. Alternatively, you could do the same process in a blender or kitchen wizz.
- Add 1/3 cup of sugar syrup to the watermelon mixture. Then add in the rosewater and mix well. You could always add more rosewater, a little at a time, at this stage if you wished.
- Take a large, clean, flat tray that has at least a 1cm edge to it. Carefully pour the watermelon mixture into this flat tray until it is almost full. Before moving this to the freezer, make sure you have enough space on your freezer so that the tray may sit flat until the granita mixture is frozen. Once you’ve cleared space, gently transfer the tray to the freezer. Set aside for a couple of hrs to freeze partially.
- Remove the tray from the freezer and, using a fork, scrape the granita mixture to form small crystals if granita. If the granita has not been in the freezer for long enough, the mixture will just melt into a liquid again. Once you have scraped most of the mixture into crystals, place the tray back in the freezer for another few hours to ensure the granita crystals are frozen.
- Serve with cream and crushed pistachio nuts.