We are in the middle of summer and no one knows summer the way Phoenicians do! It is hot. Super hot. It’s already hot before we get up and long after we go to bed. The summer is almost to the point where the swimming pool becomes too hot to provide relief and the car door handles are molten!

During these days, there is nothing better than a frozen, icy treat to take the edge off. Granita is a simple, slushie-like treat similar to sorbet or Italian ice, although a bit more textured.

It is typically made with a fruit puree, which provides you with tons of flavor possibilities this summer – especially when you have fresh produce that’s ripening too quickly because, well... it’s hot!

The grainy texture is created when the fruit mixture begins to freeze and is then scraped with a fork or spoon, forming fruity ice crystals. At our house, the kids take turns scraping the pan every 20 to 30 minutes until the icy treat is finished.

I have plans for making strawberry granita this summer, but here are more possibilities.

With all of those prolific tomatoes that are done trying to stay on the vine, a tomato and basil granita is a delicious starter for a fun summer meal. I would hold the sugar and serve in a brightly colored ramekin just before a main course of lemon and thyme marinated grilled chicken with grilled summer squash.

Another option is to cut several oranges in half and scoop out the juicy pulp, saving the orange peel “bowl” in a zippered bag in the refrigerator. Puree the orange (minus the seeds) with sugar and a touch of lemon before freezing into granita. When ready, serve the orange granita in the saved “bowl” and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Mmmm... dreamsicle?

If this wasn’t Kids’ Corner, I would say that pineapple granita is fabulous with a splash of coconut vodka over the top and garnished with orange zest. But, this is Kids’ Corner, so never mind.

The recipe on the right is for watermelon granita. The color is gorgeous and the watermelon flavor shines through and is oh so refreshing on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Granita

  • 1/2 whole seedless watermelon, cubed (without rind), about 8 cups
  • Juice from one large lemon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

In a blender, place half of each ingredient. Process until smooth, and then pour into a separate bowl. Repeat with remaining half of ingredients and combine with the other puree. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch pan. Freeze for at least one hour.

Begin lightly scraping the top frozen layer and the sides with a spoon or fork. Return pan to freezer with the shaved ice on top. Repeat this process every 30 minutes until the entire mixture is shaved. Store covered in plastic wrap or transfer to a sealed, reusable container until serving. Serve in small bowls or even in a cocktail glass, with a twist!