Gelo di Melone

017The Feast of Santa Rosalia, patron saint of Palermo, Sicily, takes place in mid-July.

This annual festival is held to honor the “little saint” (La Santuzza) for saving the people of Palermo from the Black Plague (1624).

The festivities include a procession to the sea, music, dancing, fireworks and an abundance of food.

This watermelon pudding, (with an Arab influence) is a traditional favorite during the three-day long celebration.

The original recipe calls for jasmine water, (made by steeping 12 fresh jasmine flowers in 1/2 cup of water for twelve hours) however, vanilla extract is a suitable substitute.

The pistachio nuts represent the watermelon rind, tiny chocolate chips denote the seeds. This chilled dessert is usually made in individual serving dishes, glasses or small paper cups (conducive for festival frolicking).

If you haven’t pureed all of the chunks of watermelon, you may enjoy Watermelon Gorgonzola & Balsamic Drizzle.


  • 1 ripe watermelon (resulting in 4 cups juice)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or more depending on the sweetness of the melon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • Pistachio nut
  1. Slice the watermelon, remove rind and seeds.
  2. Using a food processor, puree the watermelon pulp.
  3. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve, (pressing with the back of a wooden spoon) reserve 4-cups of the juice.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine cornstarch and sugar, whisk in the watermelon juice (stir to remove any lumps).
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, (stirring so it doesn’t burn) cook 2-3 minutes, (stirring constantly) then remove from heat.
  6. Add the vanilla and cinnamon, fill individual serving dishes (or glasses) let cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator for several hours.
  7. Decorate each serving with chocolate chips and pistachio nuts.



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