The theme for this month’s great gluten free recipe challenge is the super summery herb, mint. As ever, Caleigh (www.glutenfreekblog.co.uk) our hostess has added another dimension for the challenge; to create a mint-tastic recipe without eggs.
When we were in the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily last year I tried an amazing granita made with the island’s own lemons. The cold, bitter ice was so refreshing on a warm and sunny day. Later that evening I was served a frozen lemon dessert with the emptied lemon shell serving as the dish. How cool, I thought, one to make when I got home. And then promptly forgot. Until Caleigh asked whether I’d like to participate in this month’s gluten free recipe challenge. To me, mint is a summery, cooling and refreshing herb. So as I thought about the challenge I was reminded of our trip to Sicily and thought how wonderful it would to make a mint and lemon granita. Only one problem at that point; the weather in London was most unlike a Sicilian summer and I was still wearing my wool winter coat to work. Fast forward a few weeks and this glorious spell of hot weather is perfect for a granita.
I decided to add some limoncello to this granita to make it a bit more grown up than eating a minty, lemony Slush Puppy (minus the freaky colours, obviosuly!). When I say “some” limoncello I should add that when I opened the lid from the freezer box the first time to stir the granita I was nearly knocked out with alcoholic fumes. Ooops. I persevered and the final product tastes of summery mint with a final – but not overpowering – kick of limoncello. Perfect for cooling down with in the garden in this current sunny weather.
Mint and Limoncello Granita
125g golden caster sugar
500ml cold water
Juice of 2 lemons
Large handful of mint
Put the golden caster sugar and cold water into a saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil, the sugar will dissolve before the mixture reaches boiling point. Leave to boil for 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat and let mixture cool.
While the sugar and water mixture is cooling, prepare the lemons. Decide which end of the lemon will be the base and which will be the hat. Your call on that one, depending on the shape of the lemon! For the base, slice off a tiny piece of one end of the lemon, literally just enough so that it is flat and will stand up straight. For the hat / top of the lemon, slice off approximately one-fifth of the top of the lemon. Again, the exact amount will depend on the shape of the lemon. You will need to slice off enough so that you can get into the lemon to remove the juice and pith and later add the granita, but not so much that the lemon is too small to hold the granita.
Carefully scrape out the insides of the lemon. I did this over a glass and chucked all the pith in too. Be careful not pierce the skin of the lemon or dig through the base. I used a combination of small paring knife and teaspoon to get it all out. You could use a grapefruit knife if you wanted to be really precise and you have one. Once you’ve removed the contents of the 2 lemons, pass the juice through a sieve to ensure no pips have made it into the juice.
To finish preparing the lemon shells, gently try and get as much of the remaining pith out of the lemons. Remember the less pith, the more space for granita! Clean off the lemons and allow to dry.
Once the water and sugar mixture is cool to touch, add the limoncello, lemon juice and mint. Pour into a shallow dish and transfer to the freezer.
After the granita has been in the freezer for an hour or so and is just starting to freeze, remove it and give it a good stir through. Check back on it regularly until it’s frozen. It’s done when it looks like a frozen Slush Puppy.
Many thanks to Caleigh for inviting me to participate in this month’s gluten free recipe challenge. Please click on this link to see a round up of all the recipes.