I just spent a few days in Sicily, and floods of memories came back the minute I stepped off the bus in Agrigento – of candied squash-stuffed butter cookies, bread made with grano duro that tastes hauntingly like cinnamon, mollica (dried, toasted breadcrumbs) which are an essential ingredient in Sicilian cuisine, just-out-of-the-Mediterranean swordfish, almonds that explode with flavor, meaty green and black olives, sour lemon granita with brioche. Sicily is rough and ready, ancient and modern, filled with charm and laughter, smiles, warmth and sun. And the food, influenced by the Saracens and the Normans, is a constant surprise.
And then it was arrivederci, until the next delicious visit!
Here is a recipe for Granita, first published in ITALIAN FARMHOUSE COOKBOOK (Workman, 2000)
1 (200g) cup sugar
The zest of 2 lemons, minced
1 cup (250ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Place the sugar and 2 cups (500ml) water in a medium-sized saucepan and whisk to combine. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the lid, reduce the heat so the mixture simmers merrily, and cook, stirring from time to time, just until the sugar is dissolved, which will take about 5 minutes Stir in the lemon zest and let cool to room temperature.
2. When the sugar syrup is cool, strain out the lemon zest and discard. Whisk in the lemon juice and refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour.
3. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.