Banana Ice Cream with Roasted, Salted Pistachios

Anthony and I are both fiery and opinionated, and that’s putting it mildly. So, naturally we disagree…a lot. Impassioned debates and lengthy discussions are not for everyone, but it works for us. When it comes to food and cooking, though, Anthony and I agree on just about everything. We think that organic produce is (mostly) worth the money. We believe that cooking together each night is more important than working late or watching TV. We like to travel the globe in our kitchen, and nothing is too weird or too difficult to try.

But there is one cooking argument that we have over and over again: dessert. Neither one of us is really into sweets. We don’t keep cookies or candy in the house, we don’t make dessert for ourselves, and we rarely order it when we go out. Whenever I bake, Anthony and I each have a little and then take the rest to work.

However, when we invite folks over for dinner, I always argue that we should serve dessert. Anthony, on the other hand, is more concerned about getting dinner done, appetizers plated, the house vacuumed, the right music on, and the perfect wine chilled to worry about something so “frivolous” as sweets. Fair enough. But I’ve had one too many guests excitedly ask “What’s for dessert?!” at the end of a meal only to have to scramble to get something on the table. I’m my mother’s daughter, so I’m usually able to make a quick save by scrounging through our pantry and fridge for a few squares of gourmet chocolate, a hunk or two of creamy cheese, and some interesting after-dinner liqueurs. It works, but I don’t love the frantic last-minute scamper through our cabinets. Thus, I always rep for a planned dessert.

Recently, we decided to have some good friends over for dinner. Anthony and I agreed to make goat vindaloo, homemade naan, and rice, and then ask our friends to bring a vegetable side. Of course, when the conversation about dessert arose, Anthony balked. “We have way too much to do before Friday to worry about dessert!” he exclaimed not-so-quietly. But I knew which buttons to push. “What if I make something with all those bananas in the freezer?” I asked, appealing to his love of fruit and his penchant for giving new life to old food. “And maybe I’ll add some roasted pistachios?” I inquired innocently. Now, I was really laying it on thick, and he was listening.

Anthony caved—quickly—and I set about making the ice cream base. My dear husband ended up getting sick that Friday and we had to cancel dinner, but I churned the ice cream anyway. When it was done, I fed Anthony a spoonful and he died and went to heaven. He won’t say it, but I think he’s glad we had to reschedule dinner because that meant more banana ice cream for him.

When I pitched this ice cream recipe to Maggy, she turned up her nose. (What’s with the haters? Can’t a girl get a break?) But in a recent email, she groveled: “This should be called ChangeYourLife.com Banana Ice Cream! I take back everything I said about it!”

So, give it a shot. You will not be sorry!

Banana Ice Cream with Roasted, Salted Pistachios

Banana & Roasted Pistachio Ice Cream

This ice cream base comes together quickly and can be made days ahead, and then churned the day you serve it. Be sure to use homogenized milk, or the consistency will not be smooth and creamy. This recipe is adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (or a pinch of table salt)
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean
2 very ripe bananas
2/3 cup roasted, salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add the bean and seeds to the milk mixture. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.

Cut the bananas into chunks and purée in a food processor. Whisk the banana purée into the ice cream base.

Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand until cold, about 30 minutes. (If you’re making the ice cream base ahead, skip the ice bath. Just transfer the warm base to a container and refrigerate until you’re ready to churn it.)

When ready to freeze the ice cream base, remove the vanilla beans and discard. Freeze the ice cream base in your ice cream maker until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, layering in the pistachios as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze for at least 3 hours.