It appears that finally Summer has arrived in the Norther Hemisphere, and with a vengeance in many places. And even with all our cry-babying about how cool and wet the Spring was, we do still have the right to seek out some sort of respite from the heat.
Not everyone has the luck to have access to a lake, pool or the sea, so second-best is a light, cooling dessert to lower the body temp. As a kid, the neon colored Italian ice from what we in New England called the “Hoodsie truck” was one of my faves. And little did I know how easy it is to make!
As long as you can create some flat space in your freezer, lemon granita is a super easy recipe and sure to impress your friends.
Peel the white pith off the lemons and discard the pith. Cut each lemon in half and remove and discard any seeds.
Place the peeled lemons in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and pulse until smooth.
Press the puree with the back of a ladle through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl.
Measure the lemon juice and then add enough water to make a total of 4 cups of liquid.
Make the syrup
Pour the 4 cups of liquid into a 2 quart saucepan and add the sugar, stirring to make sure it is completely dissolved.
Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and then boil for 5 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the reserved lemon zest, cover and let sit until the liquid is cool enough to stir with your finger (about 30 minutes).
Freeze the granita
Pour the cooled lemon mixture into a baking pan or dish large enough (about 9 x 13 inches) so that the mixture is not more than about 1 inch deep (it will take longer to freeze and be a bit harder to work if it is any deeper).
Place the pan in the freezer and freeze until it the granita becomes firm, but not completely solid, about 1-2 hours depending upon your freezer.
Remove the pan from the freezer and let it sit until you can break the granita into chunks with a couple of forks. Dump the chunks into a food processor and pulse until it is the consistency of snow. Serve immediately, or return the granita to the freezer until ready to serve. If it freezes very hard by the time you serve it, simply let it sit on the counter for a few minutes and work it a bit with 2 forks until soft. Serve immediately.
Add about 20 medium-to-large fresh mint leaves to the food processor with the peeled lemons in Step 1. Once the mixture is smooth, let it sit for about 30 minutes to let the mint flavor infuse the juice, and then press the puree through the sieve.
Replace the lemons with oranges, grapefruit or other citrus fruit. Adjust the sugar content to your liking.