In the heat of late summer, when the sun blankets outdoor markets and supermarket produce sections, there’s an unmistakable aroma that captivates the senses. It’s that intoxicating swirl of floral sweetness, reminiscent of a ripe melon. While melons may have faced unjust criticism for lacklustre fruit salads, a culinary renaissance is underway, showcasing these gems in their prime.
Santa Monica and Hollywood farmers markets, along with speciality food stores like Cookbook in Echo Park and Highland Park, have become hotspots for melon enthusiasts. Weiser Farms’ melons, in particular, are sought after, but the truth is, all melons shine this time of year. Whether it’s the dense, buttery flesh of cantaloupes, honeydews, or the exotic Charentais, the sheer aroma of these fruits is enough to entice even the most discerning palates.
While the allure of raw, chilled melon straight from the fridge is undeniable, a culinary maestro suggests elevating this summer delight to an ethereal level. Picture a snowy landscape of melon granita, lightly sweetened, kissed with lime juice, and fragrant with rosewater. This chilled concoction cascades over-generous chunks of melon, adorned with toasted pistachios and edible flowers, creating a dessert symphony that’s both refreshing and visually stunning.
Melon Extravaganza: A Symphony of Flavors
The recipe for this indulgent creation is surprisingly simple, requiring no cooking but a touch of patience during the freezing process. For those who find rosewater too bold, vanilla extract provides a delightful alternative. Alternatively, orange blossom water can be used to complement the melons, catering to diverse preferences.
- 2 ripe cantaloupes, honeydew, or Charentais melons, rinds removed, halved, and seeds discarded
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rosewater (or orange blossom water)
- Chopped, toasted pistachios and edible flowers for garnish
The preparation involves scooping out bite-size chunks from the melons, discarding the rinds, and dividing the fruit into two portions. One-quarter of the melon, weighing about 1 3/4 pounds, is blended with sugar, lime juice, salt, and rosewater until smooth. The remaining chunks are refrigerated, and ready to be arranged later.
The melon purée is poured into a shallow glass dish and left in the freezer. After an hour, a fork is used to stir the freezing mixture, breaking up any chunks. This process is repeated every hour until the purée transforms into an icy granita, which typically takes about four hours.
A large platter with a rim is chilled before serving. Once ready, the chilled melon chunks are arranged on the platter, and the granita is generously spooned over them. The final touch includes a sprinkle of pistachios and edible flowers, creating a visually captivating dessert that beckons to be enjoyed family-style.
Serving Up Summer Dreams
This extraordinary dessert is a celebration of summer’s bounty, an ode to the lusciousness of ripe melons. The rosewater adds a floral note that dances on the taste buds, while the pistachios ground the dish in Middle Eastern elegance. Edible flowers, a whimsical flourish, transform the dessert into an artistic masterpiece.
As the aroma of melons permeates the air, surrendering to the allure of this fantastical creation becomes inevitable. Whether spooned into glasses or enjoyed directly from the platter, this melon extravaganza promises to be the highlight of summer gatherings, a sweet symphony capturing the essence of the season. So, as the temperatures soar, indulge in the blissful chill of melon granita, savouring the magic that late summer brings to the table.