Salt and pepper . . . ice cream?!

Great little recipe has the smallest ingredient list possible and everything else big: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or less — not including water, salt, black pepper, and some fats (like oil and butter), because we’re assuming you’ve covered them. Inspired by the column, the Big little recipes recipe book is available now.


Salt and pepper are commonplace in savory recipes, so much so that they’re often abbreviated as S&P, like a dear friend signing an email with a single initial. The other letters are unnecessary. You know who they are.

This is especially true in large savory little recipes, where there may only be a few other ingredients. Like tuna, avocado, bread and lemon. Or pasta, onions and butter.

But by changing the context, salt and pepper can raise your voice, demand your attention, tell you to listen. Just switch from dinner to dessert. My favorite dessert, actually: ice cream.

In the United States, Vanilla is treated as the default spoon, the canvas on which you draw hot fudge, sprinkles, or whipped cream. But vanilla is not vanilla, it’s vanilla. You know? As Sohla El-Waylly says, “I’m offended when something bland is called ‘vanilla.’ Good vanilla is anything but boring. It’s sultry, floral, and exudes nostalgia.”

Likewise, Salt and Pepper are vibrant, earthy and full of punch. And taken for granted. Because their presence is obvious, we don’t even notice them, like a few coffee-drinking extras next to Jennifer Aniston drinking coffee at Central Perk. How many were there in “Friends”? How many of them can you remember?

Rich yet humble, cream and sugar are happy to let salt and pepper take center stage. At first, the contrast is striking. But once you settle in, it’s sweet meets salty and spicy, like the weather changing from hot to cold to hot, a deliciously confusing reminder that summer is almost here.

Recipe: Salt and pepper ice cream