Though granita, sorbet’s icier cousin, is most often consumed mid-meal as a palate cleanser, its lightness (no fat!) makes it an ideal summertime dessert. Here, I’ve eased up on the zero-fat restriction with a study in crunchy-creamy contrasts: a tart rhubarb-strawberry granita layered parfait-style with tufts of sweetened whipped cream. If you prefer a sweeter (or deeper pink) granita, simply add more strawberry purée. However, avoid exceeding about 1/2 cup, as the added sugar will inhibit the formation of granita’s trademark chunky ice crystals.

Yield: About 3 1/3 cups granita (or about six 1-cup parfaits, with whipped cream)

Prep Talk: Make and cool the ginger syrup (for sweetening the granita) in advance.

A Parfait, Pretty in Pink
A Parfait, Pretty in Pink Photo by Julia M. Usher


Ginger Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • About 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

Rhubarb-Strawberry Granita Base:

  • 1 cup Ginger Syrup, cooled
  • 1 cup fresh rhubarb juice (Start with fresh cubed rhubarb; then use an electric juicer to separate the juice from the pith.)
  • 5/6 cup (1/2 plus 1/3 cup) freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
  • About 3 to 4 hulled strawberries, puréed in a food processor (or about 1/3 to 1/2 cup strawberry purée)

Parfait Additions (optional):

  • Sliced strawberries
  • About 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks with powdered sugar to taste


1 | Make the ginger syrup. Combine the water, sugar, and ginger pieces in a small saucepan, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring as needed to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat to low, and continue to cook the syrup 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature.

2 | Prep the granita base. Combine the cooled ginger syrup, rhubarb juice, lemon juice, and strawberry purée in a medium bowl. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a large, shallow baking dish. The liquid should be no more than 1/4 inch deep. (Straining will remove excess pulp and lead to an icier granita. Also, the shallower the liquid, the easier it will be to achieve uniform ice crystal formation in the granita.)

3 | Freeze the granita. Set the baking dish in the freezer, and stir the mixture regularly with a fork to prevent it from freezing into one large mass. Continue stirring until the mixture has turned completely into large flaky crystals. Let the granita freeze another 20 minutes or so (to allow it to fully “set”); then “fluff” with a fork once again before serving.

4 | Assemble the parfaits (optional). The granita is tasty straight-up, but for a sweeter, richer ending to your meal, alternate layers of granita, sliced strawberries, and sweetened whipped cream in tall clear glasses or mason jars, as I have here.

Note: If you’re too lazy (oops, I meant laid-back) to freeze the granita base, then simply pour it over ice to make a rhubarb-scented lemonade!