My background is in straightforward food using simple, traditional methods and quality ingredients. Back to the basics. Meals driven by season, not by technology. People have been cooking amazing food with a pan and a fire for a long time. The sort of food you cook for a cozy dinner, or the kind you make for a meal outside on a warm summer day (like today!). You build your life by it, making wonderful memories with friends and family and lots of laughter around the table. Good food, good company, good life.
So this is one of those sorts of recipes. And I revised it for a Rainforest Action Network event earlier this year. I both attended and catered the event, so I needed a desert that I could prepare ahead and assemble quickly without missing too much of the gathering. And being the beginning of spring, I wanted to welcome the new season with a warm-weather dessert. Plus, I love making granita because it's absurdly easy, and everyone is always impressed by the outcome.
If you're making an herb-infused granita, the process is an expansion on making tea. It's pretty hard to mess up if you have a good timer. And that's the key- time, not just for the brewing, but also for the freezing process. Granita is a flavored ice, so you need to flavor the water and then freeze it. The nuances of the freezing process are what make granita nice and flaky, as opposed to a solid block of ice.
It's all about the forking. (Yes, that's right.) After your granita mixture has been in the freezer for about an hour, you need to break up the ice crystals that have begun to form on the surface and edges. Fork it! Simply run the times of a fork through the mixture to break up the crystals, and return it to the freezer. By repeating this process every 30 minutes you achieve the desired texture.
Yes, it will be a few hours before your granita has finished freezing, but all it takes is a couple of minutes of forking every half-hour to make it perfect. It keeps well in the freezer, so make it some night while you're at home doing laundry, cooking dinner and watching a movie. As my friend Jude would say, it's easy, peasy, (Meyer) lemon squeezy.
MEYER LEMON AND MINT GRANITA
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup light agave nectar
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, whole
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, sliced (for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
- (Coconut) Whipped Cream and Marzipan Lace Cookies, for serving
Combine the the water and agave in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the whole mint leaves. Stir to submerge the leaves, and let steep for 30 minutes.
Fish out the mint leaves with a sieve. Add the Meyer lemon zest and juice, pour into a shallow container, and stir. Place in the freezer for one hour. Remove from the freezer and run a fork through the mixture in order to flake the granita into crystals and prevent it from freezing into a solid block of ice. Return to the freezer, set your timer for 30 minutes, and fork the granita again when your timer goes off! Repeat every 30 minutes for a few hours, until frozen into flakes.