When you think about Foods of Summer, watermelon is possibly at the very top of the list. You don’t think of having a barbecue party without including ice cold slices of juicy watermelon. And when I think of chilling that watermelon, I always picture a large, bright green beauty chilling in the river behind my family’s cabin, the ‘cabin that Grandpa built’. It’s really a sight as the clear river water swirls around the top of the watermelon, just off the bank with some stragically placed rocks placed nearby to stop it from being taken downstream and picked off by someone in a cabin in the next county. Another thing that I always think of when planning for watermelon on the menu is salt. I’ve been taught that salt and watermelon naturally go together but I know it’s to everyone’s liking (Dave 😉 ). I can still picture the saucy look on my grandma’s face as she would salt a piece of watermelon because some might not find that a good pairing, but she knew her stuff. In fact, I’ll bet salt on watermelon might be one of the original savory-sweet culinary combos. Way to go, Grandma Phyllis.
Watermelon Granita with Black Lava Salt combines ice cold, juicy watermelon with a heady and beautiful helping of salt. The recipe is easy peasy and takes a few hours in the freezer. Watermelon (seedless or seeds removed), lemon juice and a tiny bit of sugar. Process the watermelon and sugar in a food processor then add the lemon juice. Next this almost liquid gets frozen for a couple hours and then requires some scraping of the ice that should just be forming around the edges. A few more hours in the freezer and it’ll be ready to scrape with a fork into fluffy ice crystals. I’ve even found that I can fluff it all up and freeze it this way overnight to be scooped into glasses and topped with the salt just before serving.
If combining watermelon with salt is not your thing, of course it’s still a watermelon granita. Or for the kids, it’s a delicious watermelon slushie. Substitute some dark chocolate sprinkles if you want to keep the look of watermelon seeds. Also, if you want your granita a little boozy, you can do that two ways. Add a little tequila or light rum to the liquid mixture before freezing but just know alcohol has a lower freezing point than water so it might take a while longer. Another option, pour some chardonay or wine spritzer over the granita immediately before serving for a delicious slushy wine cocktail. However you dress it up, Watermelon Granita with (or without) Black Lava Salt is a refreshing way to include your summer melon at any party or barbecue, or for my family; our priceless “Cabin Time”.
- About 10 cups (3.25 pounds/1.5kg) watermelon chunks, seedless or with seeds removed
- ½ cup/100 g granulated sugar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Hawaiian black lava salt
- Mint leaves for garnish, optional
- Place the watermelon chunks and sugar in the bowl of an 8-cup or larger food processor or in the pitcher of a blender. Pulse until just combined and then add the lemon juice. Process the mixture in 5-second burts until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a 13x9-inch/33x23 cm baking dish and freeze for 2 hours, or until icy around the edges.
- Remove the pan from the freezer and scrape the icy edges to the center of the pan with a fork. When the mixture resembles slushy ice, return it to the freezer and freeze for 2 more hours.
- Scrape the granita again with a fork into fluffy ice crystals. If the granita is still slushly, freeze again for 1 hour and rescape.
- Divide the granita evenly between six 6-ounce glasses. Sprinkle with Hawaiian black lava salt to taste and garnish with a mint leave, if using, immediately before serving.
Recipe adapted from Sea Salt Sweet cookbook