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Icy Herb-Infused Granitas: This refreshing treat calls for garden ingredients and requires no specialty equipment.

Air conditioning, cold pools, and automatic ice makers help make hot, humid weather more bearable, but the calendar still says summer, and the foods we crave--air conditioning or no air conditioning--are cool, full-flavored, and refreshing.

Taste buds tend to dull in summer; the proverbial dog days are no time for subtle flavors or dishes with rich ingredients, such as butter and heavy cream. More satisfying are foods with the bright notes of tart-sweet lemonade or spicy salsa, the rousing textures of crunchy coleslaw or cucumber salad, and the moisture of a juicy tomato or a wedge of slurpy watermelon.

And what would summer be without frozen desserts: ice creams, sherbets, sorbets, and all their cousins? Among the most heat-quenching of these are granitas--intensely flavored, coarse-textured ice confections typically made from water, sugar, and fruit. Granitas are frozen, and they're stirred during the freezing process, which gives them their icy, granular texture, while requiring no special equipment. This method differentiates granitas from other similar desserts and palate-cleansers. Sorbets, for example, contain similar ingredients (and no dairy) but are usually frozen in an ice cream maker for a smoother texture.

Classic Recipe, New Flavors

The earliest granitas, also commonly called "ices," date back to 17th-century Naples, where the new treat, made with sweetened, crushed ice, was described as having the alluring consistency of sugar and snow. By the end of the century, ices were sold by vendors on Naples' sweltering streets.

Classic granitas have changed little over the years, and continue to be a popular summer treat in Italy and in Italian neighborhoods and restaurants in the United States. Today, granitas can also be found in upscale restaurants, where chefs have updated the classic recipes with herbs, spices, honey, and even balsamic vinegar. Most granitas are sweet and are served as a dessert or between courses to refresh and surprise the palate. But perhaps the most original granitas are savory, intended as condiments or garnishes for soups, fish, and shellfish.

In these recipes, the addition of fresh herbal flavor, such as lemon verbena to a peach granita or tarragon to an orange granita, adds complexity, while the lavender and rosemary granita conjures up the essence of Provence. A scoop of savory red pepper and rosemary granita on cold avocado soup adds a surprising burst of flavor.
Rosemary and
Lavender Granita

This bold, honey-based granita perfumed
with Provencal herbs is the perfect
finish to a Mediterranean dinner.
Yield: 3 cups.

* 3 cups water

* 9 tablespoons honey

* 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lavender flowers or

* Two 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary

* Rosemary or lavender sprigs for

In a medium saucepan, combine all
ingredients except garnishes and bring
to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for
5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat, cover, and let
steep 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture, pour it into a shallow,
freezer-safe pan, and then freeze it.

Scrape with a fork to break up ice crystals
every half-hour to an hour until fully
frozen, about 4 to 6 hours.

Serve immediately, garnished with a
sprig of rosemary or lavender.

--Layla Chesebro, pastry chef
Savory Red Pepper
and Rosemary Granita


* 1 1/2 cups water

* 1/3 cup sugar

* 2 pounds red bell
  peppers, roasted
  and peeled, seeded
  and stemmed,
  juices reserved

* 2 tablespoons
  chopped fresh
  rosemary leaves

* 2 tablespoons fresh
  lemon juice

* Pinch ground
  cayenne pepper

A spoonful of this savory granita adds
a burst of flavor and vibrant color to
chilled potato and leek soup or cold
avocado soup. Yield: 2 cups.

Directions: To make rosemary syrup: In
a saucepan, heat water, sugar, and pepper
juices until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove pan from heat, stir in rosemary,
cover, and steep for 20 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, pur6e
the bell peppers with the lemon juice
and cayenne.

Strain the rosemary syrup and stir it
into the pepper mixture.

Pour into a bowl, cover, and place in
the freezer.

Stir the mixture every 30 minutes, or
until semi-frozen.

Chop the mixture coarsely with a fork, and then spoon into chilled
glasses and serve immediately as a palate cleanser or as a garnish for
cold soups.

--Carole Peck, chef
Peach and Lemon Verbena Granita


* 1 pound ripe peaches, pitted,
  peeled, and diced into medium-sized

* 1/2 cup superfine sugar, or more to

* 1 cup water

* 1/4 cup chopped fresh lemon
  verbena leaves

* 1 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or
  more to taste

* Lemon verbena sprigs for garnish

Lemon verbena brings out the flavor of peaches that've been ripened
to perfection. Yield: 2 cups.

Directions: In a small saucepan, bring peaches, sugar, and water to
a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the peaches
are tender and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and drain
peaches, reserving the poaching liquid. Puree peaches in a blender
or food processor until smooth.

Taste and sweeten with some reserved poaching liquid if desired.

Add the lemon verbena leaves to the puree and let stand for 15
minutes. Then, strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste; add enough lemon juice
to make a sweet-tart mixture.

Pour the mixture into a shallow, freezer-safe pan, and place it in
the freezer. Scrape with a fork to break up ice crystals every
half-hour to an hour until it's fully frozen, about 4 to 6 hours.

Serve in chilled glasses garnished with lemon verbena sprigs.

--Jimmy Schmidt, chef
Blood Orange and
Tarragon Granita


* 1 1/2 cups water

* 3/4 cup sugar

* 2 cups blood orange
  juice (available
  frozen at specialty
  food stores) or freshly
  squeezed regular
  orange juice

* 1/4 cup freshly
  squeezed lemon juice

* 2 tablespoons firmly
  packed fresh tarragon

* Tarragon sprigs for

* Fresh orange segments
  for garnish

Fresh tarragon adds a slight note of licorice to this
cool, tart-sweet refresher. Yield: 3 3/4 cups.

Directions: In a medium saucepan, heat water and
sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

Add orange juice, lemon juice, and tarragon leaves,
and bring to a simmer.

Remove pan from heat, cover, and let steep 30 minutes,
or until desired tarragon flavor is reached.

Strain liquid to remove leaves, and then pour the
mixture into a shallow, freezer-safe pan, and place it in
the freezer.

Scrape with a fork to break up ice crystals every half-hour
to an hour until it's fully frozen, about 4 to 6 hours.

Serve immediately, garnished with fresh tarragon and
orange segments.

--Amanda Baker, pastry chef

TAG US! us on Instagram @MotherEarthNewsMag if you make one of these colorful granitas this summer!

Caption: To create granitas' icy texture, simply scrape the mixture with a fork several times during the freezing process.

Caption: Take advantage of garden-fresh fruits and herbs--such as rosemary, lavender, blood oranges, and peaches--to make refreshing granitas.
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Article Details
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Author:King, Sally
Publication:Mother Earth News
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Aug 1, 2019
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