It’s 8pm and about 750° as I type this. Yes, that’s right: the summer weather that was so cruelly kept away from this region has finally arrived, several weeks and one season too late. It’s almost October and here in California we’re baking like little Cornish game hens in a perfectly calibrated oven. Don’t get me wrong: I love, love, LOVE that we’re finally getting some summer weather, even if it’s so late in the game. I was just all prepared for fall weather and had my fall clothes ready to go; now I have to go back to summertime tanks and my perpetual flip-flop wearing.
To deal with this type of heat, it’s always good to have some tried & true cooling off methods. Since my AC unit is quite dinky and only cools down one room of my apartment, I try to stay cool with lots of ice water (the official beverage of Kimberland), salads, and plenty of cold, juicy fruit. Recently, Ms. Munchie had dropped off a bunch of kiwi fruits that she’d scored at some event she went to, and though I’d eaten a couple by themselves, I wanted to do something special with them. With plenty of fresh basil that I harvested from my little garden before the heatwave hit, I figured a cool, refreshing granita made with these two bright green ingredients would be a delightfully beautiful way to cool off.
Wait a second, Poor Girl – kiwi and basil???
Why, yes! I had done some mental food math and thought that the coolness of the basil would complement the sweet tartness of the kiwi fruit perfectly. I was glad to find out I was right, but even more delighted when I saw how gorgeous this dessert looked! The kiwi’s unique green color was enhanced by the brighter green of the young basil, while the black kiwi seeds and tiny flecks of basil seemed to dance around in the granita, competing for attention. I served mine in a hollowed-out kiwi half, but this would be just lovely in any type of dessert dish or clear shot glass. Though I made this in an effort to get some relief from the heat, feel free to serve this anytime! Frozen treats are always fun no matter what the weather’s like outside, and this would be a wonderful way to cleanse the palate in between the courses of a more elaborate meal. Think kiwis are too expensive? Check the weekly specials in your local stores’ circulars or websites! Right now my local Safeway is selling them for just $0.50/each, making this as affordable as it is delectable.
Kiwi-Basil Granita (makes 8 servings; total cost per serving: $0.60)
1 c fresh basil (Stems & leaves, the younger & sweeter, the better)
1 c water
1/3 c sugar
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Carefully peel the kiwis and chop the fruit into large pieces. Using a food processor or blender, puree together the kiwi, basil and lemon juice until smooth and place the puree in a large bowl. In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar, and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Carefully add the simple syrup to the fruit puree and mix together well.
Pour the mixture into a 9″ x 11″ metal pan and place in freezer for 30 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the edges toward the center of the pan and return to freezer. Repeat this process until icy, flaky crystals of granita have been formed (about 2 1/2 hours, depending on freezer settings). Serve in hollowed-out kiwi halves or dessert dishes, garnish with extra slices of kiwi fruit and basil flowers or leaves, and enjoy!