Every kid remembers a time when their parents urged them to “Eat your vegetables.” But what about “Eat your ice cream or you’re not leaving the table?”Vegetable ice cream. I know it’s a radical concept, but I proved recently to my dinner guests that this unexpected combination of fresh spring peas and sweet cream actually tastes amazing together. I am a huge fan of green pea soup, puree, anything to do with peas. As a child, I would sneak a handful of frozen peas while my mom was making dinner, and I still love popping them in my mouth whenever I’m cooking with them. If you are lucky enough to have fresh peas, then by all means, use them, but frozen peas will definitely do the job here.
As usual, I turned to my trusty ice cream cookbook, David Liebovitz’s Perfect Scoop, for inspiration (remember the indulgent rice gelato I tried during Purim?). From there, I let my improvisation run wild. This ice cream screams spring, and with a fresh burst of mint, you will be sure to impress your friends and family. They may even demand second helpings of their veggies!
Sweet Pea Ice Cream
Note: I halved the recipe, which is why the measurements are a bit unusual. I would absolutely double to give your guests larger servings; I made this as an amuse bouche during a dinner party, and served small servings.
1/2 pound (on the heavy side) green peas, fresh or frozen
3/8 cup whole milk
3/8 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/4-1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Bring about 2-3 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the peas. While the peas are cooking, fill a large bowl half full with ice cubes and water. After 7-10 minutes of cooking, drain the peas and add them to the ice water right way. After 1 minute, drain the peas into a mesh strainer and remove any pieces of ice.
Warm the milk and sugar in the same saucepan you used to cook the peas. Pour the cream into a large bowl, add the drained peas, and set the empty mesh strainer over the top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the pan. Be careful not to scramble the yolks.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream and peas. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Pour the mixture into a blender, add the mint leaves, and blend until smooth. You can press the mixture through a course mesh strainer and discard any tough pea skins if you want. I loved the texture and color of the pea skins and hate the idea of throwing out food.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream make according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy as a spring treat!