Lemon Granita is hard to go past for its brightly acidic, palate-cleansing pop of flavor. Sicilian lemons are definitely ideal, but Meyer lemons would be a great substitute.
Granita is very easy to make at home—just a couple of ingredients, barely any cooking to do, and most of the work happens in the freezer (the syrup is what is going to keep the mixture soft and not rock solid in the freezer). You only need to be on hand to give the whole thing a bit of a swirl with a fork and fluff it up every now and then until it is frozen to a texture somewhat between a sorbet and a slushie. It is a bit icy, but pleasantly so: tiny, subtle shards of ice that refresh and revive like nothing else—especially when you're wilting in the heat. —Emiko
5 to 7
medium lemons (at least 1 cup juice and zest of 1 lemon)
Peel the zest off one of the lemons. You could do this in two ways: Grate it against a fine microplane or peel strips (like you would for a twist of lemon for a cocktail), being careful not to take the white pith along with it. Both will give great flavor to the granita. If you do the latter, you will also end up with some candied lemon zest to garnish your granita—bonus!
Bring the water and sugar to boil with the lemon zest. When it comes to the boil and the sugar is dissolved, take off the heat and let cool. If you used strips of zest, remove them, cut them thinly, and set aside (here's your candied zest to garnish). If you have used grated zest, you don't need to do anything. Pour the syrup into a shallow container so that the liquid is no more than a couple inches high. Let cool.
While waiting for the syrup to cool, squeeze the lemons and strain out the seeds and pulp. You should have at least a cup (250 milliliters) of lemon juice. Add it to the cooled syrup, give a quick stir, and place the container flat in the freezer.
After about 2 hours, give the granita a good stir with a fork, particularly around the edges where it tends to freeze quicker. Place back in the freezer. After another hour, repeat. You should see the mixture coming together, looking more and more like a slushie. Place back in the freezer for another hour. Again with a fork, fluff up the granita. Back in the freezer. It should take 5 to 6 hours for the granita to set; you are looking for an icy mixture, no longer liquid.
Before serving, fluff again with your fork and serve in glasses. Top with candied lemon strips (or some mint leaves), if you like, and serve.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.