Fresh basil is unusual to find in desserts, but in this icy granita, it pairs perfectly with ripe cantaloupe. Be sure to use quality, ripe produce to make the best-tasting granita, especially since the recipe calls for so few ingredients.
30 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fresh lime juice
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
1 ripe cantaloupe (about 4 lb./2 kg)
Coarsely chop 20 basil leaves; set the remaining 10 leaves aside. In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the lime juice, sugar and 2 Tbs. water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped basil, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, halve the cantaloupe and scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut off the rind and then cut the flesh into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes.
Strain the basil mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a blender. Add half of the melon cubes and pulse a few times, then puree until smooth. Add the remaining melon cubes and pulse a few times, then add the reserved whole basil leaves and puree until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch (33-by-23-by-5-cm) glass baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, place on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer.
After 1 to 1 1/2 hours, check the granita. When the mixture starts to freeze around the edges of the dish, stir it with a fork, then return the dish to the freezer. Stir the granita with the fork every 45 minutes or so, until the mixture is completely frozen into icy grains and the texture is fluffy, 2 to 3 hours longer.
Spoon the granita into bowls and serve right away. (The granita is best when eaten within 2 days. If it becomes very hard and dry in the freezer, let it stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.) Serves 8.
Find more simple, nourishing recipes in our cookbook Good for You, by Dana Jacobi.