Watermelon gelo

A recipe from Recipes from an Italian Summer

Preparation: 4 1/2 – 6 1/2 hrs (including cooling and chilling)

Cooking: 5 minutes

Serves: 6 people


80g (3oz) (¾ cup) arrowroot

120g (4oz) (generous ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

1 litre (1¾ pints) (4 cups) watermelon juice

100 g (3½oz) zuccata (candied pumpkin), diced

50g (2oz) plain (semisweet) chocolate

handful jasmine flowers, to garnish


Mix together the arrowroot and sugar in a pan and gradually stir in the watermelon juice. Set over low heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

Cook for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened, stir in the zuccata and remove from the heat. Divide the mixture among 6 small plain bowls and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the dark chocolate into very small pieces to resemble watermelon seeds. Put 5 – 6 pieces into the mixture in each bowl, then chill in the refrigerator for 4 – 6 hours.

To serve, briefly dip the bases of the bowls in warm water and turn them out onto a serving dish garnished with fresh jasmine flowers.

Note: This is a traditional dish for the Feast of the Assumption on 15th August, both in Palermo and the whole of western Sicily. A good watermelon gelo should be transparent, a fine pink-tinged ruby colour and must melt in the mouth.