Granita al melone e peperoncino
Tuscany in July is one sweltering place to be. Long days, the hot sun scorching the pietra forte stones of Florence or the crackling, dry fields of the countryside and constant temperatures in the high 30s.
The conditions call for either staying high in the hills or spending your time very close to the sea, if not right on the water’s edge, where you’re more likely to get relief by a breeze and cooling evening air.
My other favourite remedies for the Tuscan heat include a gelato a day, guzzling litres of cold water and eating my fill of cold, juicy wedges of melone (cantaloupe to Americans, rockmelon to Australians). So juicy and sweet (and cheap!) at this time of year, I could eat thick, generous slices of melon for every meal of the day at the moment.
It seems somehow quite appropriate that my growing belly, at four and a half months, is also the symbolic size and shape of my favourite fruit of the moment (as the fruit-analogy-loving pregnancy books have been telling me). I like to think that for a good month this melon-sized bump is being nourished by Italian food and sun before returning to Melbourne’s winter. After all, it is a half-Italian melon.
Although I could easily eat an entire melon just on its own without much done to it besides having the seeds cut out, I do love the idea of making it into an icy granita – somewhere between a slushie and a sorbet. It takes just minutes to make, a few hours to set in the freezer, and then seconds to eat!
This particular granita is inspired by a visit a few weeks ago to Elba Island, part of Tuscany’s lovely archipelago, where I tried a refreshing sorbet of melon spiced with chilli. The sweetness of the melon goes so well with the heat of the chilli, which you only sense afterwards. Just gorgeous at the end of a meal.
Granita al melone e peperoncino
Melon and chilli granita
- 500-600 gr melon pulp (just over half a decent-sized melon)
- 150 gr sugar
- 150 ml water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp dried chilli powder
Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small saucepan over low-medium heat and bring to the boil. Let boil for a few minutes then set aside to cool.
For the melon pulp, remove the skin and seeds of the melon and chop roughly into pieces. Place in a food processor or blender and reduce to a smooth pulp. Add the fresh lemon juice, chilli powder (if you’re unsure of the heat, start with a little, taste, then add more) and cooled sugar syrup, stir to combine then pour into a shallow bowl or a deep tray to place in the freezer. Allow three-four hours or so to set, stirring every now and then until you have a creamy, icy consistency. Serve in little glasses with a spoon or straws.
Some granita tips:
If you’ve left it too long and end up with a frozen block, simply use a fork to grate the granita into icy flakes, place into glasses and give it a little stir to get it back to a creamy consistency.
If you don’t have much time for the freezing part, an easy way to do this is to fill an ice-cube tray with the melon pulp mixture, freeze, then whiz the whole thing in a food processor (not a blender).