This easy, healthier alternative to ice cream has its roots in Sicily. Paired with an unusual and delicious sweet basil sauce converts this shaved ice treat into an elegant and sophisticated dessert for a hot summer day.
Granita is a frozen dessert made from fruit puree and sugar that is frozen solid and scraped with a fork to make crystals resembling shaved ice. It is easy to make, refreshing, vegan, lactose free, and plain delicious! This recipe uses strawberries but you can make granita with most fruit, so try this recipe again with watermelon, mangos, or peaches later this summer.
I have had a long-standing love affair with basil. In this sweetened dessert version of a basil sauce I tried to be BRAVE by combining olive oil, pine nuts, Melipone Vanilla and maple syrup to create a sweet basil pesto that pairs perfectly with the strawberry granita.
This dessert epitomizes the sweet finish to a meal typical of the Mediterranean Diet (or Mediterranean Lifestyle as I call it) using fruit, herbs natural sweeteners and a little whipped cream to create a dulcified fruit dessert that is cold, crunchy, melty, creamy and luscious, all at once. So BE BRAVE, grab those punnets of strawberries, and fresh basil from the farmers market and create this cold, refreshing granita treat!
Strawberry Granita with Sweet Basil Sauce
1 ½ lbs fresh strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup simple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup Basil EVOO *
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons Maple syrup *
1 tablespoon Melipone Vanilla extract *
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
Whole strawberries for garnish
In a blender or food processor, combine strawberries, simple syrup, lemon juice and salt. Pour through a wire mesh strainer into a 13 x 9x 2 inch freezer safe pan (I like to use a lasagna pan). Transfer to freezer and freeze 2-2 ½ hours scraping with a fork every 30-40 minutes to create small ice crystals. Keep moving the crystals from the edges towards the mushy center. Repeat till granita looks dry and fluffy. At this point you can cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the freezer till you are ready to serve
While the granita freezes, in a clean food processor, add the basil, pine nuts, Melipone vanilla and maple syrup. Process until smooth while drizzling in the olive oil (about 2 minutes).
To serve, scoop granita into bowls, top with whipped cream, a drizzle of sweet basil pesto and garnish with whole strawberries
Active Time: 25 minutes. Total Time: 3 hours
* The Oil & Vinegar brand Basil EVOO adds an extra layer of basil flavor to this sweet pesto sauce, but you can substitute a high-quality plain single estate EVOO instead. The result will tone down the depth of the basil flavor a little, but it will still be delicious.
As with all dishes using simple ingredients, high-quality ingredients, especially maple syrup and vanilla will add complexity and intensity of flavor to this recipe.
Categories: Desserts, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sweets, Fruit, Strawberries, Mediterranean Diet, Basil, Basil EVOO, Pine Nuts, Melipone Vanilla, Shaved Ice, Make Ahead, Granita, Slushy