Smoothies can be as light or as decadent as desired. They can be filled with a myriad of superfoods or made from a few simple ingredients. This version is more of a dessert combination, made from only four ingredients- fresh nectarines, vanilla bean, cashew ice cream and cashew milk. The nectarines give it a sweet, summery flavour while the cashew ice cream and milk give it a velvety smooth, rich texture and the vanilla increases the decadent factor. Nectarines and peaches are very similar genetically and can be used interchangeably in most recipes, including this one. I do often prefer nectarines because their smooth skin requires no extra prep beyond washing, while the fuzzy skin on peaches can sometimes be a nuisance. The best way to choose is by checking them both out at the grocer or market and going with whichever ones are more appealing, or whichever ones are more fragrant and more perfectly ripened, that day.
Vanilla bean pods are filled with many little black seeds bursting with potent flavour. Generally, the seeds from one bean are equivalent to around one teaspoon of vanilla extract but I find that equation a little more nuanced with smoothies. The delicate flavour from the beans themselves blends in perfectly with smoothies, and the small black specks their seeds dapple the drink with can be very aesthetically pleasing, but when it comes to the extract, less is more. I recommend starting out with a small splash, around 1/4-1/2 teaspoon then adding more as desired. To get the seeds out of a vanilla pod start by cutting a long line across the top, breaking through the first layer but not cutting all the way down. Spread open the two sides then use the knife to scrape from one end to the other, collecting all the tiny seeds. Scrape over any areas where seeds remain until you have them all and discard the husk.Whole vanilla beans are not the most economical option but they really shine through in raw, simple dishes like this so it is a good way to use them. In baking recipes they can get lost amongst the other ingredients but in a smoothie they really get to show off.
- 3 nectarines, chopped (around 3 cups)
- 1 cup cashew ice cream (or any preferred type, dairy or plant-based)
- ½ cup unsweetened cashew milk
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and husk discarded
- Optional serving addition: 2 small sprigs of mint
- Blend in a high-speed blender until the nectarines are broken down and the whole mixture is smooth.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a day.