Since this dessert is so elemental, seek out the best heirloom melon you can find to really make it shine. Canary melon, which has a bright yellow rind and cream-colored flesh, makes a granita that’s beautifully translucent, but use whatever is available at your farmers’ market.
Melon Ice with Mint and Basil
- 1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) sugar
- 3 cups (1 lb./500 g) Canary, Crenshaw, honeydew or other melon chunks (1/2 to 1 melon, depending on size)
- 1/2 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) honey
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. minced fresh basil, plus a few small leaves for garnish
- 1 tsp. minced fresh mint, plus a few small leaves for garnish
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) water and cook, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
2. Put a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) metal baking pan in the freezer until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
3. In a food processor, combine the melon, honey, lemon juice, minced basil and mint, and the cooled syrup and process until smooth. Pour the melon mixture into the chilled pan and place, uncovered, in the freezer. Freeze for 30 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the ice crystals away from the sides of the pan and stir the mixture thoroughly. Continue to freeze, scraping every 30 minutes or so, until the granita is completely frozen into fluffy shards, about 1 1/2 hours total. Spoon the granita into a container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and freeze until serving time.
4. Divide the granita among 6 glass bowls, garnish with 2 or 3 herb leaves, and serve. Serves 6.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.