Michelle Palmer: A strawberry semi-frozen dessert for a hot day

Michelle Palmer’s strawberry granita is perfect for a hot day.

Michelle Palmer’s strawberry granita is perfect for a hot day.

Strawberries are in. I have been shopping at our local Farmers Market and purchasing strawberries from Rodriguez Farm for many years!

So many ideas come to mind and now with the hot time of the year now finally here. Something cold and light sounds about right.

Domesticated strawberries were first grown in Brittany, France, in the 1750s, and these fruits are a crossbreed of Fragaria ananassa.

The strawberry is a rosette-forming perennial in the rose family and originated in Europe as an accidental cross between a North American species and one from Chile. Strawberries are bright red, juicy, and sweet. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, which may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.

Over the last few months, I have been learning about the foods of Italy as the assistant chef to world renowned Chef Tim Magee at Calafuria restaurant in Reno. It is not just pasta … a super simple cold dessert that takes a little bit of time to make but worth if for summer is Granita.

Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it is available throughout Italy in varying forms. It is related to sorbet and Italian ice; however, in most of Sicily, it has a smoother, more crystalline texture.

Strawberry Granita or Strawberry Ice (Sicilian Style with Cream)

3 cups water

3 cups farm fresh Strawberries, hulled, cut in half

2/3 cup cane sugar (less or none if the strawberries are already sweet)

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Unsweetened Whipped Cream (if serving Sicilian Style)


In sauce pan mix sugar and water over medium heat, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved, bring to room temperature. Put strawberries in a blender with lemon juice and process to make puree. Mix the puree with the cooled sugar water. Pour the mixture into a metal pan to freeze in.

The pan will be stirred every hour for about 4-5 hours with a fork until the granita is formed. It will change into ice crystals instead of a solid mass.

Serve in a clear serving glass that shows your labor and top with whipped unsweetened cream. The sweetness of the strawberries will be enough sweetness. Enjoy!

Michelle Palmer is owner of Absolutely Michelle’s Chef-for-Hire.

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