It has been incredibly warm here for the past few weeks. Glorious sunshine, weeks of hot, sticky days with temperatures in the high 20's (around the 80's for all of you who may want a translation), and everyone exposing a little too much of themselves in the parks around town. We pray for days like these most months of the year. However, when we are blessed with a "real" summer, we are swiftly reminded that our UK cities and infrastructure are not designed for the prolonged heat and humidity, and we all start melting. Especially when almost 8 months pregnant with baby no 4.
While struggling through these uncomfortably warm city days, I re-discovered my ultimate cooling technique - refreshing watermelon granita. It takes about 5 minutes to make, and no ice cream maker needed to create your thirst quenching treat. Just blend (or process), freeze and stir. (The only faff is removing the watermelon seeds, but I dare say you can easily find seedless ones these days...)
I have also realised that the ability to procure super tasty and sweet watermelons has become remarkably easier over the past couple of years. I know that this goes against my (mainly) "eat local" philosophy, but, to be honest, particularly when I am not traveling abroad, I have to exercise the 80/20 rule of moderation, and celebrate summer even with fruit and veg not grown within 25 miles of London. And now I can pretend I am in Southern Europe, or the States, thanks to the excellent produce from my local greengrocer (you know who you are, Clifton Greens).
So, with my crisp, juicy and jeweled red watermelon flesh, I can pretend I am in Italy (where, at one point, I thought we may be this summer), eat granita, cool down and enjoy summer.
Even if I am not at the beach.
I do not like my granita too sweet, hence the large proportion of lime juice and small amount of sugar. Feel free to add a little more sugar if you wish. But remember, the watermelon should already be very sweet. Feel free to add a shot of vodka or two into the mix for a more adult treat, but given my condition, and the fact that my children devour this almost quicker than me, I tend to make it without. My husband also loves this with some finely chopped mint leaves stirred in for a little variety.
1kg (2lb 4oz) watermelon flesh cut into cubes, seeds removed (approx 1/4 large watermelon)
80ml (1/3cup) lime juice (approximately 3 limes)
80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Blend all ingredients into a blender or food processor.
Pour into a glass or plastic freezer safe container around 20 x 30cm (8 x 12inches) and cover with a lid or cling film
Leave to set for 1-2 hours and then stir through with a fork creating crystals. Make sure you really get around to the edges so that it does not completely freeze. If it completely freezes, the water and fruit can separate leaving white patches in your granita, losing some of its glorious finished colour
Repeat the stirring/scraping with a fork twice more at one hour intervals until frozen into ruby coloured snow.
Serve in small bowls, martini glasses or eat simply out of the container straight from the freezer in a desperate attempt to cool down.