Pistachios are my favorite nuts. For taste, texture, but I think mostly for nostalgia.
Growing up, pistachio nuts were a part of every family road trip. And we took a lot of road trips back in the day throughout New England, upstate New York, even DC. Piled into my folks’ station wagon, there were bags of snacks and coolers filled with cold drinks. My dad loved to snack on the road, which always made the trips that much more exciting for us kids. It was a rotating mix of salty and sweet, except for one constant.
Now, back in the ’60s, pistachio nuts were sold one way. In the shell, which was dyed a vibrant red hue. By the time we were at our destination, our fingers, lips and often clothing were all tinged a glowing neon fuscia. Which is probably why we only had this coveted treat on road trips! Thanks to modern farming practices, the need to dye the nuts red to hide imperfections in the shell became obsolete in the 1980s. Now I eat them all the time. As a snack, in or out of the shell, in salads…but best of all chopped and churned into ice cream.
Pistachio ice cream is a favorite flavor and difficult to find in a plant-based version. This recipe I created is as good, if not better, than any dairy-based pistachio ice cream I’ve ever had. Perhaps it’s the Arnett Farms Pistachios, which are rich and buttery and always fresh. They are absolutely delicious and available at the Sunday Larchmont Farmers Market. This recipe uses ½ cup of pistachio butter to add flavor and creaminess. While you can buy pistachio butter ready made in a jar at the Arnett stand, I chose to roast and grind my own in my food processor. (Recipe follows)
Silk brand Extra Creamy Oatmilk and Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative are my go to for making vegan ice cream. You want lots of fat in your ice cream for good mouth feel and texture. These products help replicate the creaminess of dairy ice cream.
In place of sugar, I use Nature’s Charm sweetened condensed oatmilk. This adds to the richness of the ice cream without using egg yolks. It’s available at Whole Foods and online.
If you are in the market for an ice cream maker, the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Machine is a wonder of modern kitchen appliances. Pricey but worth every penny as it churns perfect frozen treats every time with little effort. It even dings when its time to add the mix-ins.
Perfect Pistachio Ice Cream (Vegan)
½ cup pistachio butter (recipe follows)
¾ cup sweetened condensed oatmilk
1 cup plant based heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ cups extra creamy oatmilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1/3 cup toasted pistachio nuts, broken in pieces
In the bowl of a food processor, add the pistachio butter and sweetened condensed oat milk. Process until well combined. Add the rest of the ingredients except the mix-in nuts. Process until combined. The mix should be smooth and creamy.
Chill in the refrigerator at least 6 hours. You want a very cold mix before churning. When the ice cream mix is well-chilled, churn in your machine according to manufacturers directions. Add the mix-in pistachios when the machine indicates. When frozen transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze to desired consistency. Serve topped with more pistachios nuts.
1 ½ cups shelled pistachio nuts
Pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pistachios on a large cookie sheet. Roast for 8-10 minutes, stirring up half way through. Make sure to keep watch as nuts can burn easily. Let cool. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy, adding the salt once the nuts are broken down. You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during processing. Yields ¾ cup pistachio butter.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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