National Pistachio DayFebruary 26, 2017 by Richard Peterson
Do you remember the almond article I wrote and the fact that it is not a nut? Well, I proudly introduce you to another member of the drupe family: the pistachio! The pistachio we eat is the seed of the fruit of the pistachio tree.
Pistachio consumption dates back as far as 6500 BC and is the seed of a small desert tree, pistacia vera, originating in Central Asia and the Middle East. This little seed has some very famous cousins from the same plant family, Anacardiaceae; like the cashew, mango, sumac and even poison ivy. The United States is second in the world in the production of pistachios, behind China.
These tasty green morsels are commonly toasted and salted, but can be eaten raw or incorporated into other food items. Popular food items are Neapolitan ice cream (Italian), baklava (Turkish), kulfi (Indian/Sri Lankan), halva (Middle Eastern) and mortadella (score another for the Italians).
Beyond these applications, there are creative and easy ways to include pistachios in the food we create each day. Here are some simple examples:
- Sweet Pistachio Crust – for tarts or even a crumble topping
- Pistachio Pesto – using basil; it is good for pasta dishes or as a sauce, try mint instead for a dessert
- Pistachio-Crusted Date Truffles – great for a cheese tray
- Spiced Pistachios – add to a dessert tray as garnish, or an added flavor layer on a charcuterie tray
- Caramelized Pistachios – a crunchy topping to a parfait or yogurt
- White Sugar-Dusted Pistachios – nice on a breakfast display or topping for a dessert
- Curried Salted Pistachio – bright and earthy flavor for a chicken dish
- Savory Pistachio-Wasabi Pea Crust – nice on delicate fish or an upscale chicken tender
- Pistachio and Chickpea Falafel – a crunchy twist on a classic
- Edamame Pistachio Hummus – good for a new crudité dip
- Wonton with Pistachios Dust – sprinkled on a fresh-made wonton chip with a small poke on top
- Pistachio Puree – as a sauce with a grilled lamb or as a drizzle on a soup
- Sea Salt Pistachios – dip a madeleine into some chocolate, and then dip the chocolate into this
- Lemon Pistachios – add to a broccoli and onion salad with a nice goat cheese champagne vinaigrette
- Crushed Toasted Pistachios – a topping for almost anything