“Pick up a sesame seed but lose sight of a watermelon.” ~ Chinese Proverb
This proverb is very telling and it’s a reminder not to focus on all the minutia in life and instead direct your energy to more important, big picture things.
Today has been a particularly frustrating day. Nothing seemed to go my way – I was parched and reached for a cup of water and the office cooler was empty. I took one bite of my salad and spilled it – with balsamic vinegar – on my lap. I found myself getting very frustrated and worked up by minute details and annoyances at the office. And then. Pow! I stumbled across this proverb and I realized that I needed to get a grip, and quit sweating the small stuff. If I continue to allow all of these tiny annoyances to pile up and bother me, I’m going to be toast. I need to cool it…
…And so I did, with this terrific watermelon mint granita! I’ve been on a mint kick lately. It’s funny considering I had a mint tragedy a few months ago, but I’m recovering. Last week I made fresh mint lemonade when it was 104 degrees and it was so perfectly refreshing. Today I used the rest of the mint and the remaining 3.5 cups of watermelon puree from the watermelon sorbetto for this watermelon mint granita. [By the way, if I were getting paid for every time I've used the word watermelon in the past two posts I'd be rich!]
I saw that Martha Rose Shulman, the brains behind recipes for health in the NY Times had a recipe for watermelon mint smoothies. I figured heck, if she can pulse it into a smoothie, surely I can freeze it into a granita. I changed some of the ingredients and proportions, and I’m pretty certain that is an awesome summer treat!
A few words about granitas… The granita originated in Sicily, and it’s a cousin of the Italian ice or sorbet. The granita texture varies in different parts of Italy; some of them are more creamy and smooth, others are icier and coarser. Either way, granitas can be eaten with a brioche for breakfast (um, yum), in coffee, on top of sorbet, or with a dollop of whipped cream. Bottom line, a granita is delicious and refreshing! I’m serving mine straight up with a slice of lime, though I was tempted to pour a little vodka or rum on top and enjoy it while watching the beautiful NYC sunset. There’s always tomorrow for that…
Watermelon Mint Granita
Adapted from recipes for health by Martha Rose Shulman
3.5 cups of pureed, seedless watermelon*
1/2 cup of sugar (you could use agave as well, just adjust proportions)
2 tbs of fresh mint
1 tbs of vodka (optional)
2 tbs of fresh lime juice
*To get 3.5 cups of watermelon puree, you’ll need approximately 3.5 lbs of watermelon. I bought a 5.5lb watermelon which yielded 6.5 cups of watermelon puree.
Remove the watermelon rind and cut into small pieces. Puree the watermelon in the blender until smooth. There will be small white seeds, don’t worry about it.
Add in the fresh mint, lime juice, sugar and vodka and puree until smooth.
Pour into an 11×7 rectangular pan and freeze. After approximately 1.5 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of home made granita!
While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!
The Verdict: I loved it! This was so easy and so refreshing. The best part? No ice cream maker or tools required. This is a very simple crowd pleaser; everyone will think you went to lots of trouble but in reality you mixed and froze some fruit and sugar. Not too shabby! Granitas are a perfect treat for a hot summer night. Enjoy.