vegan pistachio ice cream (in loving memory)
My grandfather, who we call Pops, was a deeply sweet and loving man, an example of how to live a full life of genuine appreciation for others, of dignity, and of generosity. And as I am writing this now, it has been only a few days since he lay to rest after 82 rich and love-filled years on this earth. I dedicate this writing and this culinary creation to his memory, with love.
Pops took deep delight in many things, especially storytelling and ice cream. One story that he loved to tell and re-tell involved a trip to an ice cream parlor up north when I was three or so. My dad and I probably chose chocolate; Pops chose pistachio ice cream, that when served, was a shade of green unseen by my toddler eyes. I was horrified and shouted, in my oh-so-loud toddler voice, something along the lines of: "Ew gross! Pops got GREEN ice cream!"
And, being the gentle and good-humored man he was, Pops was so very, very tickled by this.
I was thinking about this and other Pops stories, when I realized that after hearing this story so many times, despite being much more accepting of unique ice cream colors and flavors in adulthood, I had never in my life tasted the "gross, green ice cream" that is pistachio. So, I dove into the big bag of roasted pistachios in my cupboard and created this creamy concoction on a whim. No fancy super-herbs here, just agave-sweetened love and simplicity. However, pistachios do provide many health benefits, which Pops would have appreciated, as he became deeply interested in nutrition after his retirement. His gift of a Nutrition Action subscription to me has proven to be life-changing. Inspired by a Nutrition Action article, I remember discussing the benefits of a low/no-dairy diet with him at his and my Nana's breakfast table, a few years ago; he would have appreciated the dairy-free aspect of this ice cream, too.
As you can see, this ice cream didn't turn out green, but rather a very light golden, nutty hue. This is probably both because I used roasted pistachios (rather than raw) and because food coloring really isn't my style. Ah well.
As for the taste? This is the warmest flavor that I have ever encountered in a frozen food item. The texture is very rich, almost like a frozen mousse, due to the coconut cream. If you are in need of some comfort this week, I hope this recipe delivers for you as it has for me.
RECIPE: Vegan Pistachio Ice Cream
(makes approximately four servings)
- 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts (I used roasted and salted) (soak overnight if you have a weak blender)
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) of coconut milk + the cream from a second 13.5 ounce can (refrigerate the coconut milk for at least 24 hours and scoop the solidified cream from the top)
- 1/3 cup light agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted cacao butter
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
- In a high-speed blender, process all ingredients from the first pistachio nuts to the vanilla bean until a creamy, silky smooth "custard" has formed.
- Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker. Churn until slightly softer than soft serve.
- Once this "extra-soft serve" texture has been reached, pour in the chopped pistachios.
- Churn until desired thickness is reached; I like to let it get fairly "hard."
- Enjoy immediately, or freeze for an hour or more for a more traditional ice cream texture.
Serve with love.
With love and in your memory always, Pops. Thank you. I love you, I miss you, and I am so grateful to be your granddaughter.