Around the World in 80 Plates: Barcelona, Spain

Pack your bags and don’t forget your sunscreen- For the next leg of our global cooking conquest, we’re headed to Spain! Barcelona, Spain, to be precise, where dishes sparkle with bright, bold, and fearless flavors. Making paella may be the extent of my experience with this vast, richly varied cuisine, but it’s from that generous hammered metal pan that I drew inspiration for this week’s well-traveled recipe. Rice and vegetables needn’t apply, however, because this is a job for saffron alone. The signature spice that breathes life into this savory simmered rice is just as well suited to savory tastes as it is sweet.

Ice creams still churning endlessly on my mind, a glorious, golden saffron scoop was an irresistible concept. An ideal treat for such the perpetually warm climate of Spain, or the increasingly sweltering summer days ahead for most of us at home, a fuss-free and refreshing recipe was the only way to go. Fine delicacies such as saffron need little to make any dish pop, but I couldn’t help but gild the lily further with a smattering of crunchy cashews. Lending their roasted, slightly salty flavor to the party, their gentle nutty taste is the perfect compliment.

Be sure to watch Bravo this Wednesday at 10/9c when Around the World in 80 Plates hits Barcelona!

Saffron Cashew Ice Cream

2 2/3 Cups Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Saffron
3/4 Cup Roasted and Lightly Salted Cashews, Divided (1/4 cup blend in base, 1/2 chopped)
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Light Agave Nectar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot
2 Teaspoons Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

For starters, combine the non-dairy milk and saffron and let sit for 8 – 12 hours, or overnight to infuse.

Once the saffron has turned the “milk” a golden-yellow color after a nice, long soak, pour that liquid into the canister of your blender. Add 1/4 cup of the cashews along with the sugar, agave, arrowroot, and cornstarch. Roughly chop the remainder of the nuts and set them aside for later.

Blend on high speed until the nuts are completely pulverized and the whole mixture is completely smooth. This may take as long as 8 – 10 minutes if you’re not using a high-powered model, so be patient. Pass the mixture through a fine strainer to filter out any remaining cashew pieces. Transfer the smooth base into a medium saucepan and begin to cook over moderate heat. Whisk periodically until it reaches a rapid bubble. Turn off the heat and add in the and vanilla. Cool and then let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the final 5 minutes of churning, introduce the remaining chopped cashews directly to the machine while it continues to spin, evenly distributing the pieces throughout the soft ice cream. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the freezer for at least 3 hours, to fully solidify, before serving.

Makes About 1 Quart

Printable Recipe

For participating in this competition, Bravo has compensated me for my time, but all recipes and opinions are solely my own.

36 thoughts on “Around the World in 80 Plates: Barcelona, Spain

  1. You had me at saffron! I have yet to try a cashew ice cream base and this sounds like a perfect combination. Does any kind of non-dairy milk work? I’m worried that if I used almond milk, it would be super hard out of the freezer. What do you think?

    1. Yes! Any sort of non-dairy milk will work, except for rice milk, because it’s too thin and typically gritty. My standard pick is almond milk, but for a super-deluxe version, opt for coconut milk. The results will be super rich and creamy!

  2. My comment won’t be about Spain (although I love Barcelona) but about ice cream: every time I have an ice cream here in Rome (and it’s almost every day) I remember you, so when you come to Rome we have to hang out and I’ll take you to the best ice cream shops ever :)

    1. Oh now that sounds like heaven! I’d love to take you up on that offer some day… I’ve only been to Rome once, and that was over a decade ago now, when I wasn’t yet vegan. It would be incredible to visit the city with a new perspective on the food. :)

  3. I’m currently reinventing the wheel for my wife who has gone gluten and dairy free. I used to make a saffron and cardamom ice cream, but this looks like the substitute I’ll use now.

  4. Oh my gosh, what a coincidence! I was with some friends at the shore this weekend, and one of them ordered paella. I remembered that years ago I had made a vegan paella from The Voluptuous Vegan, so when I got home today I looked up the recipe….and here’s a post about paella! I didn’t remember quite how complicated the VV recipe is; I may make it again, but not on a weekday.

  5. Saffron ice cream! I love it! And I like David’s saffron & cardamom pairing a lot too–so many ideas to try out :)

  6. Aaah Spain, a dream travelling destination you have taken me too :D
    Thank you my friend – your ice cream looks delicious (you had me with cashews :))

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. omg! want!! i love saffron in ice creams.. coz it reminds me of kulfi, the indian ice cream.. these days i make saffron kulfi with cashews, almonds, cornflour and saffron! i will have to try this lightly toasted and salted cashews.! awesomeness!

  8. I had a dessert special at work a few months ago that was a saffron ice cream from a coconut milk base. Cashew sounds like it would make it even richer and more luscious!

  9. I somehow haven’t delved much into the realm of spanish cooking either but saffron (and ice cream!) always sounds good to me!

  10. Hannah this looks really great and unique. I can already tell that the cashews with the saffron are a really special flavor combo. Spain is one of my favorite spots on earth!!!

  11. Mmm,it looks so tasty! I have made cashew ice cream a few times,but to flavour it with saffron sounds really interesting! I love Spain and have been there about 20 times,and I always bring saffron from there,although it is grown here too.

  12. I love that this is dairy free! I love pistachio ice cream but have never tried cashew ice cream so am curious to see how this will taste!

  13. Thx for connecting with me on foodbuzz. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can’t wait to see what your next post will be!

  14. Any tips as to how to get this to work without an ice cream maker? Sounds delish so I’d really like to have a go at making it.

  15. looks and sounds divine! and the flavor of saffron is so spanish! must try this!!!

    i’ve been to barcelona. . . best vacation of my life. hard to find vegetarian fare there as it was illegal to have a vegetarian restaurant in spain until 1974. . .so they are a little behind. but there was a great sandwich shop and smoothie bar in the area of virrei amat metro stop, and one quaint new place in the gothic neighborhood near the quattro gats bar and restaurant. it’s one amazing city. and this saffron ice cream. . . . just reading the ingredients sends me back to walking along la playa barceloneta wind in my hair. . . .good times!

  16. Love it! I too am a kulfi fan and I love flavors like saffron and cardamom in ice cream. The recipe I have for kulfi has no egg (Indian vegetarian recipes have milk but not egg) and uses a piece of bread blended up in it for the starch. I see you have cornstarch and arrowroot for your starch: I’ve been experimenting with using kuzu root for the starch in my ice cream (though people might find it hard to get that ingredient).

  17. What a stunning bowl of ice cream! Probably the most elegant ice cream I’ve ever seen, lol. Love the flavors in there!

    1. I currently use the Cuisinart ICE-50BC, but I very happy used the more modest ICE-21 for many years, until I dropped it on the floor one too many times. I have a full run down of my thoughts on various ice cream makers in my cookbook, if you can hang on for the release! Hopefully I’ll also be able publish that information elsewhere online soon, too.

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