When I started thinking about what I wanted to write about for this month, oddly, pistachios came to mind. Though I rarely buy them for myself, I will be the first one with my hand in the bowl at a gathering where they are served. They are a great snack. So I decided to do some research and see what interesting recipes I could find that used them as an ingredient. Naturally doing the search I came across some Wikipedia information on this wonderful little treat.
The pistachio is actually a member of the cashew family (didn’t know they had kin). Originating in Central Asia and the Middle East, it is a seed from a tree that can grow to 33 feet high and survive in extreme temperatures, from cold to hot. The nut itself is actually referred to as a fruit and when ripening, the shell changes from green to a yellow/red color and abruptly splits partly open. Each pistachio tree averages around 110 lbs. of seeds, or around 50,000, every two years. That’s a lot! And each nut is chock full of a wide variety of nutrients. So let’s get to using them for something other than a snack.
There are many really nice web sites for pistachio recipes. These are some dishes I found, tried and really liked. I hope you enjoy them too.
1-1/2 cups of fresh basil
1/2 cup of cilantro
1 cup shelled dry roasted pistachio nuts
2 -3 cloves of garlic
1/4-2/3 cup of olive or pistachio oil
1 tsp. of lemon or lime zest
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Asiago cheese
Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Start with a 1/4-cup of either oil and add more if needed. This is great on crackers or toasted crostini, toss with some cooked pasta or even on a piece of cooked salmon.
Pistachio Lemon Pasta
1 (1-pound) package of Penne
3/4 cup of shelled pistachio nuts
5 Tb. of melted butter
1/2 tsp. of chopped garlic in oil
2 Tb. of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb. of salt
1 Tb. of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of heavy cream, warmed
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, and then add the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Please note this sauce needs to be made and served immediately as it will thicken if it sits.
Rinse pistachio nuts with cold water and towel dry to remove excess salt. In a small skillet, sauté the pistachios for a few minutes with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until pistachios are finely minced. Add the rest of the melted butter, garlic, oil, salt and lemon juice; pulse once again.
Transfer the nut mixture back to the small skillet. Turn the heat to low and add warmed heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Cook your pasta to taste and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Immediately add the drained pasta to the hot sauce in the pan and toss to coat well. Add a couple spoonfuls of pasta water to moisten the sauce as needed. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve. Serves 4
And this is my favorite!
Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Pistachios
and Buttermilk Dressing
For the Buttermilk Dressing:
3/4 cup of buttermilk
2 Tb. each of olive oil and vegetable oil
1 Tb. of finely grated lemon zest
1 Tb. of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. of unseasoned rice vinegar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. (or more) of fine sea salt
For the Salad:
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 small heads of broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup of white, red, or black quinoa
1/2 cup of coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped tarragon
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped pistachios
Make the dressing. Whisk the buttermilk, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more salt if needed. The dressing can be made up to 5 days ahead.
Make the salad. Stir together the shallot and the 2 Tb. of the buttermilk dressing in a small bowl and set aside. Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Keeping the water in the pot to use again, and using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain and place on a kitchen towel–lined baking sheet.
Meanwhile, bring the water left in the pot back to a boil and cook quinoa until slightly al dente, about 12 minutes, then drain. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, toss the quinoa and 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk dressing to coat, then season with salt. Let cool. Add the dressed shallot, broccoli, parsley, tarragon, pistachios, and 2 more tablespoons of dressing to quinoa and toss to combine. Season with more salt if needed. Serves 4.
And yeah! Boating season is right around the corner!!