Concocted by Kristen Levey
As summer came to a close, I found myself with an abundance of cucumbers and a container overflowing with basil. I had already made my requisite spicy garlic pickles, and endless amounts of pesto. I needed something fresh, delicious, and preferably with a titch of alcohol in it. I had a lovely bottle of Cap Rock gin from Paonia, Colorado that had been calling my name all summer. How to combine all of this local goodness into one, unique and flavorful adult beverage? After some research, I decided on something exotic called Cucumber Basil Granita. It’s basically an adult version of a flavored snow cone. Sounded perfect to me!
I had a bunch of lemon cucumbers (the most amazing, dragon-egg-shaped cucumbers…), which I blended up in a blender, with the zest and juice of one lemon, a giant handful of fresh basil leaves, a pinch of salt and enough simple syrup to combine it into a smoothie-like consistency. To make the simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water, and heat until sugar is dissolved in the water.
The trick with granita is (I should have told you this sooner), you need to be committed when you start the process. At least 4 hours needs to be spent near the freezer. Pour your prepared granita into a loaf pan or something similar, and place in the freezer. After the first hour of freezing time, you must take the granita out and scrape the top with a fork. Lightly break up the ice crystals that are forming on top. Do this every hour for about 4-5 hours. When the granita is frozen but still granular, exactly like a snow cone, you can place it into a storage container for use later. **Or, you can scoop some out into the blender right away, and add a jigger or two of gin. Blend, and serve in a fancy glass. Preferably with a fresh basil leaf garnish.
Recipe as Follows:
2 cups cucumber slices (thin skin ok to leave on, or thick green skinned cucumbers can have the majority of their skin peeled off)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
¾ cup of simple syrup
1 tightly packed cup of basil leaves
Chilled gin of your choice
Blend all ingredients and then follow the instructions above**.
Kristen currently lives in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, with her two dogs and two cats. She loves to dabble in canning, preserving, pickling, fermenting and all other forms of food preservation. Of course, Kristen’s friends are bound to have a jar of something sweet or savory show up on their tables at some point during the year…