Updated: May 1, 2020
Whilst the lockdown measures mean that most of us won’t be jetting off to the Med anytime soon, why not bring the sunshine to you with this Sicilian breakfast recipe - lemon and mint granita. Granita is, at its simplest, a frozen fruit juice typically eaten for breakfast during the summer alongside a brioche 'col tuppo' - with a bun.
Granita, like so many Sicilian dishes, has arab origins. During their occupation of Sicily the arabs brought with them the recipe for 'Sherbet', a traditional iced drink flavoured with fruit juices and rose water. From this tradition, came the ancient custom of recovering snow from the Sicilian mountains during the winter to be reused in the summer months. Mountains, in Sicily?! Yes Sicily has lots of mountains - Mount Etna and the beautiful Nebrodi and Iblei ranges, but I digress... The ice was "grated" and hence the name of some variations of granita such as "rattata" or "grattatella"; the grated ice was mixed with lemon juice and other fruit juices as a delicious refreshment during the hot summer months.
At a recent supper club, we served lemon and mint granita as a dessert with a mini brioche 'col tuppo' and a shot of Kate’s home-made Limoncello on the side. But it also makes a great mid afternoon posh slush puppy on a hot day. You could even add a shot of vodka!!
The recipe is pretty straightforward, it just needs constant attention over the first few hours of freezing.
Lemon & Mint Granita
Makes 6-8 portions
1 litre cold water 30g mint - leaves only 150g caster sugar 200ml fresh lemon juice - use the best quality lemons you can get your hands on 2 pieces of lemon rind - best removed with a vegetable peeler
Soak the mint leaves in 800ml of the cold water for 24 hours, this will infuse the water with mint flavour. After 24 hours, mix the remaining 200ml water with the lemon rind and sugar and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Sieve the mint water and add to the cooled syrup, then do the same with the lemon juice. Transfer it all to a tupperware with a tight fitting lid and pop into the freezer. You will have to take it out regularly during the first hour or two of freezing so don’t bury it with frozen peas and potato waffles. Take it out of the freezer every 10 minutes or so and give it a stir until it forms crystals. This will give the finished granita, a smooth sorbet type consistency rather than just sheet ice. Take it out of the freezer half an hour or so before you want to serve it, so it is not too solid.
Giulia’s top tip: The mixture on the edges of the tupperware will start to freeze first, so make sure you scrape those off and stir them in to get an even freeze.