Though I am a big supporter of a kosher-for-Passover ice cream maker, I realize that it’s a completely unnecessary expense. So, in the absence of an ice cream maker, you might be left with a dearth of good dessert ideas.
Enter the granita. Originally created in Italy, the granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. It requires absolutely no special equipment, and the beautiful thing about this granita is that it can be served as a dessert (perhaps with some fresh berries on the side) or as an intermezzo (or, as I prefer, an intermatzoh) to cleanse the palette between courses at the Seder. It’s your choice…and whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed.
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 lemons (approximately 4 Tablespoons)
Zest from 1 lemon
3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 Tablespoons potato vodka (optional)
Normally simple syrup is made with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, in other words, a 1:1 ratio. However, this recipe cuts down on the sugar.
Prepare the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, while continuing to whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, then transfer to a bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
While the mixture is cooling, place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vodka into a blender and mix until smooth.
Pour the cool simple syrup into the strawberry/lemon puree and blend until mixed.
Pour into an 8x8 square glass pan and freeze. After approximately 2 hours, check the granita. Once it has started to freeze run a fork through the entire pan and begin breaking up the ice to make little icicles. Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and breaking up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork, until you have fine crystals of homemade granita!
If by mistake, you forget about the granita and it freezes solid, run a very sharp knife through frozen mixture from one side of the pan to the other to loosen the ice crystals. Then scrape a fork back and forth to create fine crystals. Scoop into a cup and enjoy!
While this makes a quart of granita, it doesn’t actually serve as many people as a quart of ice cream. Expect to serve four people with this, especially because they’ll definitely come back for seconds!
Serve with fresh strawberries and a lemon wedge to enhance the presentation. Enjoy!