Labor Day is a great excuse to gather your friends and family for a shared meal, but what fun is a holiday if you spend all your time prepping for the gathering? I like to choose simple recipes that feature the fresh produce that is in abundance at this time of year. Right about now, I’m craving all the peaches I can get, but rather than baking them into a cobbler or blending into an ice cream (did your family make homemade, hand-churned peach ice cream during the summer, too?) I’m going for peach granita.
If you’ve never had granita, this Italian dessert is somewhere between a sorbet and a sno-cone. This is more of a sentimental craving than anything else, because where I’m from sno-cones are a big deal. The tiny town where I went to high school had no less than 4 sno-cone stands during the summer, and while the brightly colored flavors were certainly artificial, I still crave them to this day. I like to think of granita as the homemade, healthier sno-cone.
Granita is so easy to prepare, and it is the perfect refreshing and cooling dessert for Labor Day weekend when you’re not sure how much more summer heat you can take. If you don’t like peaches, you can substitute them for melon or another fruit.
- 4 ripe peaches — peeled, halved, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar, plus more if needed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons of finely chopped basil or mint (optional)
Puree peaches, water, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender; add more sugar to taste. Transfer to an 8-inch-square baking dish. Freeze for 2 1/2 hours, scraping with a fork every hour (mixture should be icy and fluffy). Stir in basil or mint.
When ready to serve, scoop into small bowls or glasses. Peach granita pairs nicely with fresh cherries.