It’s Labor Day weekend, and it’s hot. Here’s an easy dessert from my upcoming cookbook, The New Southern Table: Classic Ingredients Revisited, for a Watermelon Ginger Granita that you can just about make with your eyes closed. A granita is a frozen dessert made with water, fruit purée, sugar and other flavorings, and varies in texture from chunky to smooth. Likely originating in Sicily, granita are simple to make with just a freezer and a fork, refreshing in hot climates, and easily adapted to accommodate a wide range of ingredients. This simple version is a great way to use up leftover watermelon and punctuate a late summer meal. The ginger gives the granita a burst of spicy heat, and the acidity of the lime juice balances out the watermelon’s sweetness.
Watermelon Ginger Granita
1/3 cup (115 g) honey
1 teaspoon minced or grated peeled fresh ginger
8 cups (1.2 kg) seedless watermelon chunks (about 21/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
Combine the honey and ginger in a small saucepan and warm over low heat about 5 minutes, or until the honey softens and becomes infused with the ginger.
Combine the honey and ginger mixture, watermelon, and lime juice in a food processor, and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours or overnight.
Pour the chilled mixture into a casserole dish and freeze, periodically scraping the mixture with a fork to loosen, about 4 hours, or until granita consistency.
Yield: About 1 quart (800 g)