Sugar and dairy-free gelato heaven

gelatoI don't remember anyone ever having said a bad word about Italian ice-cream. Its texture is creamy and rich, soft and smooth on the tongue. The flavours sing purely, as if an opera could be transformed into taste. There are many other fine ice creams in the world, especially home-made, but they never really match the heights of pistachio gelato eaten on a passegiatta in an Italian square. I've been trying to recreate it for a while now, and I'm getting close, albeit without the cathedral bells ringing in the background. Not quite being there yet means lots of further experimentation, which can no be a bad thing when it comes to ice cream.

This recipe is different as it contains no dairy, uses Xylitol in place of sugar and arrowroot powder as the thickener. It's really quick to make, if you take into account the chilling time, and is very simple too. Add whatever flavourings you like to the base. Cinnamon perhaps, or passion fruit and mint? The simplicity of the mixture means the flavour really shines through.

For the strawberry version, I just blitzed a punnet of them with a stick blender and added them to the cooling mixture. The pistachio one was a little more involved, blending 150g shelled nuts in a food processor until the became a purée, much the same way as you'd make almond butter. You can buy pistachio purée online although it's pretty expensive. Try and get bronte pistachios if you can, they're the best.

Ingredients: 150g shelled pistachios, puréed 500ml almond milk 2 tbsp arrowroot powder 65g xylitol 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Method: 1. Mix the arrowroot powder with a little of the milk and set aside

2. Heat the remaining milk with the xylitol in a pan until just below boiling, then stir in the arrowroot mix and simmer very gently for about 3-4 minutes, until thickened. Set aside and leave to cool before whisking in the pistachio or whatever ingredients and flavours you're using, then chilli in the fridge. You can spread it onto a tray and chill it quickly in the freezer if you're pushed for time.

3. Churn the mix in an ice cream machine until ready, then serve. If you don't have one, put it in a bowl in the freezer and whisk every 30 minutes until it's set. It's best served in a sugar cone, but I'm quite capable of eating the lot in one go from the machine...