I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen recipes for granitas on the Food Network website and scoffed at them, thinking they’d be a waste of time. Of course, as I almost always am when I decide to dislike something based on nothing factual, I was wrong. I finally decided to give in because I had 3/4 of a watermelon leftover from a cookout and wanted to make sure I used it all up. I’m so glad that I did – this granita is a delicious summertime dessert and even though it’s a bit fussy, it’s well worth the effort.
Watermelon Basil Granita
5 cups watermelon, pureed
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup loosely packed basil
In a small pot, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat, add in the basil leaves and let simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture has thickened to a syrupy consistency. Allow to cool to room temperature, discarding basil leaves. Mix watermelon puree and simple syrup and pour into a 9×13 pan.
Place pan in the freezer take out every 45 minutes or so, to scrape at the top layer of icy slush with a fork. This is how the granita achieves that light, fluffy texture. My granita took about 6 hours to freeze all the through, but that is because my refrigerator is old and doesn’t work that well. It should probably be closer to 4 hours in a newer freezer.
When I made my granita, I only used 1/3 cup of basil and it wasn’t enough, so I’ve doubled it in the above recipe. This should be enough to bring out the really herbal notes of the basil and cut the sweetness of the watermelon a bit. This granita is basically watermelon candy, it’s so sweet and fun to eat.