The inspiration for this dessert was simple: I had a huge tub of spinach from Sam’s Club that I needed to use up. Tired of salad, I decided to make it into ice cream. And what taste pairs better with spinach’s bright green coloring than mint? Success! While you can’t taste the spinach, its addition makes this already healthy dessert even better for you.
I still have ~ eight cups of spinach left, though. Chocolate spinach ice cream, anyone? (You think I’m joking, but no so much.)
Mint Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream
(Makes about a quart of ice cream.)
4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
4 cups fresh baby spinach*
1 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bark
powdered sugar or another vegan sweetener, if needed
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed
1. Place the chocolate chips in the food processor and pulse until broken up into smaller pieces. Remove and set aside.
2. Place the spinach and the mint extract in the food processor and process until the spinach is broken up into small bits and resembles a paste.
3. Add the bananas and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!
Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.
Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.
4. Sample the batter and add extra mint extract or a bit of sugar if needed. When satisfied, add the chocolate chips and pulse several times – just enough to mix them into the batter.
5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).
* Pro tip: Since spinach is 92% water, the more spinach you add, the more the finished ice cream will resemble sorbet (it’s the water crystals, yo!). I used four cups here – seeing as I had so much on hand – but feel free to adjust the amount to your own liking. Even just a cup or two is sure to give the ice cream a nice, refreshing, minty green tint!