Our Sunday Night Light Menu!

Whew! What it’s been quite a week of cooking and eating! By the time Sunday night rolls around, you’ll appreciate our nourishing Asian-flavored soup-and-salad menu.

sunday-night-menuTo start:

A touch of white miso paste adds heft to the dressing for our Fennel, Red Onion and Blood Orange Salad with Miso-Orange Vinaigrette. Blood oranges are just starting to come into season here in California. If you can’t find them yet, substitute regular oranges. It’ll be just as delicious!

Main event:

From the dashi base to the bok choy and udon noodles, everything about Lia’s Simple Udon Soup will make you sigh, “Ahhhh.” Even better, it comes together in about 20 minutes, and you can add the last of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey to the pot.

Sweet treat:

This supper is all about keepin’ it light, so you don’t want anything too heavy for dessert. Earlier in the afternoon, pop a batch of our Blood Orange Granita in the freezer. Here, too, you can sub regular oranges or even tangerine juice if you can’t find blood oranges.

Granita, granita!

The first time I made granita I was in fourth grade. We were putting together a “cultural” cookbook and potluck lunch, and I pulled China and Italy out of the hat. After much deliberation, my Mom and I settled on Choo Choo Rice and Lemon Granita for the spread.

granita-postI don’t remember much about the Choo Choo Rice, but I do remember being enamored with granita. Who knew I could make my very own snow cone in our freezer with nothing more than a fork? My tastes have grown up since then, but my adoration of granita remains.

Granitas are a great way to show off seasonal fruits and herbs, and incredibly refreshing—whether as a palate cleanser in between courses, as a mid-day pick me up, or for dessert—in summer heat. Here are three simple steps to making your own:

Step 1 – Make a Flavorful Base – Granita is mostly water mixed with a little sweetener. Where it gets fun is in the juices and infusions you use to flavor the base. I love to use fragrant herbs, like the lemon verbena down below and different variations of basil, but zests and aromatics like ginger also work well. Blood orange makes for an especially colorful granita. You can really get creative here. Just bring the water and sweetener (honey and agave syrup work just as well as sugar) to a boil. Then turn off the heat, stir in the juice and flavorings and let steep for 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Strain and Chill – Once the mixture has steeped, strain the liquid into shallow pan and chill in the freezer for an hour.

Step 3 – Scrape it Into Granules – After an hour, the mixture will begin to form ice crystals. Use the tongs of an overturned fork to scrape the mixture and separate the granules. Freeze for another 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the consistency you want your granita to be, scraping two or three more times to keep the mixture nice and fluffy.

While water is the most common liquid to use, I’ve also been wanting to experiment with buttermilk and wine. What’s your favorite flavor of granita?

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Lemon Verbena Honey Granita

Granita is a super-simple summer dessert or appetizer that’s simply a frozen mixture of water, sugar and other flavorings. I planted a lemon verbena in our garden right near our Adirondack chairs simply because I wanted to be bathed in its heady fragrance whenever I was chilling out. And then I made this granita and fell in love with the plant even more. If you don’t have lemon verbena on hand, try lemon thyme or lemongrass, or just add the zest of another lemon.


Blood Orange Granita

A granita is a light, simple, refreshing iced treat that doesn’t require an ice cream maker. Stirring the mixture periodically as it freezes gives the granita its characteristic fluffy, granular texture. Blood oranges are in season right now; they have a wonderful ruby flesh and pleasant sweet-tart juice. You can substitute regular fresh orange juice or tangerine juice. This three-ingredient dessert has an added benefit: One serving provides more than 100 percent of your vitamin C needs for the day.

blood-orange-granita-recipe2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups fresh blood orange juice (about 12 blood oranges)

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in juice. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square dish. Freeze 4 hours or until frozen, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes. Scrape surface of granita with a fork before serving.

Serves 8

By Alison Ashton