The Lost Italian: Rhubarb granita

Tony Nasello shows us a thirst-quenching Sicilian dessert with a local twist that’s perfect for those hot summer days

Rhubarb Granita

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon, freshly squeezed

1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot, and cook over medium-high for at least 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. All the sugar should be dissolved and the rhubarb will begin breaking down in texture. For a more intense flavor, cook for 40 to 45 minutes.
2. When ready, place a large fine-mesh strainer over a shallow baking dish (9-by-13-inch glass or metal pan). Use a ladle to transfer the rhubarb liquid to the strainer, a spoonful at a time. Gently use the back of the ladle to push the liquid through the sieve, while keeping the pulp of the rhubarb out of the mixture. Remove the rhubarb mush periodically from the strainer and discard.
When finished straining the liquid, the mixture should be clear and pink, and no higher than one inch of the dish. If there are any particles in the mixture, you will need to strain again until it is clear.
3. Place the dish in the freezer – do not cover. To achieve the proper texture of a granita, the liquid must be scraped with a force every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours. Scrape the length of the pan (not the width) back and forth with a fork, about 10 times each way. Once you’ve completed all the scraping, cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and freeze until serving.
4. To serve, use a round ice cream scoop and garnish with fresh mint or lemon balm. To vary this recipe, you can add strawberries, fresh mint, raspberries, nutmeg or ginger to the rhubarb while it’s cooking.

Keep in the freezer up to one week.