1 vanilla bean (or 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract)
1–1/2 cups boiling hot water or other liquid
1–1/2 cups raw (unsalted, unroasted) cashews
1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon sweetener (agave syrup is best, but maple syrup or sugar work as well)
pinch of salt
Slice vanilla bean open lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape the seeds from the pod. Put the seeds and the pod into a 1-quart or larger container and add hot water, steep for at least 15 minutes. Add cashews and soak overnight, if you have time, or for at least 15 minutes.
Remove vanilla pod (not seeds), and add vanilla-cashew mixture to a blender with remaining ingredient (sweetener and salt) and blend at high speed until completely smooth when the blended mixture is rubbed between two fingers.
Pour mixture back into the quart container and refrigerate overnight or until cool.
Pour into an ice cream maker and proceed according to basic instructions for whatever model you have.
To make a vanilla base for any other type of ice cream or to make this without vanilla bean, you can save time by just skipping step #1 and putting all of the ingredients (extract, cashews, water, salt and sweetener) in a blender, blending the mixture until completely smooth, cooling and then freezing according to the ice cream machine’s instructions.
Add chunks or swirls of your favorite add-ins during the last few seconds in the ice cream machine.
Serve alone, with pie, crumble or another dessert.
Store in the freezer; cover surface with plastic wrap. Eat within 1-2 weeks to avoid the formation of ice crystals.