It seems that for the past week I have been eating nothing but strawberries. Spring is here (well, sort of) and if I continually chomp down on the first-of-the-season strawberries to arrive at my market, I can ignore the gray skies and blustery wind of winter's last gasps.
When I started to run out of things to eat strawberries with—by which I mean I got tired of them sliced with frothed cream—I started poking through my pantry for inspiration. I came across some pistachio butter, a recent gift from a friend, and knew I need look no further. Pistachio butter (there's a recipe here) is ridiculously nutty and almost unbearably complex, with a lusciousness that puts Nutella to shame.
The one thing pistachio butter wants in this world is a bouncy, flighty companion to pull it off the couch and into the sun. In a word: strawberries.
If you've never made gelato before, you may not be prepared for how hard it gets after a night in the freezer. I mean brick-like, unscoopably hard. Gelato is a relatively low-fat ice cream, for the most part devoid of cream and egg yolks. But to achieve that soft, almost elastic texture that it's known for, gelato must be served at a much warmer temperature than fattier ice cream. So be prepared to let it soften in your fridge (a more even thaw than on the counter) for upwards of 15 minutes before serving. Ideally it should be served straight from the churn, when it's at its soft, creamy best.
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.
Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.You can follow his ramblings on Twitter.
- Yield:Serves 6 to 8 people (makes about 3 1/2 cups)
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:4 hours (with chilling time)
- For pistachio gelato
- 8 ounces shelled pistachios (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of one large lemon
- For strawberry sauce
- 1/2 pound strawberries, white leafy tops removed (about 1 cup)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur (optional)
For pistachio gelato: In a large skillet, toast pistachios over high heat, stirring constantly for two to four minutes, or until you can easily smell toasted nuts. Transfer pistachios to a food processor and crush into very fine, almost powdery crumbs for five to seven minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk to food processor and continue to blend until pistachios form a smooth paste-like ball. Add remaining sugar, milk, salt, and process till well-combined. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a lidded container, stirring in lemon zest, to chill in refrigerator until cold. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Gelato is best eaten as soon as it is churned, or within three days. If not serving immediately, thaw in refrigerator, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
For strawberry sauce: While gelato is chilling, purée strawberries in cleaned food processor, adding sugar, lemon juice, salt, and maraschino to taste as you go. Transfer to a small container to chill. Spoon one or two tablespoons of sauce over each scoop of gelato when serving.