If you’re nuts for pistachios, you’re in good company. Pistachios show up on and off menus at popular venues, much to delight of foodies.
Pistachio trees, native to Central Asia, today grow in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and even Texas. The nut is technically a seed, a kissing cousin to the cashew, and oddly, the mango.
Dallasites can savor local delicacies like the pistachio soufflé, an off-menu sweet at Rise through April, the seasonal pistachio latte at Starbucks, and the Peace’stachio vanilla cake doughnut, with brown butter glaze and crushed pistachios, at Hypnotic Donuts & Biscuits. Gourmet ice cream and yogurt are readily available in pistachio, and should not be overlooked. Almond is often added to dishes as a pistachio complement, accentuating flavor.
While pistachio conjures images of sweetness, it’s very versatile. Ground nuts can be used in shortbread, pesto and compound butters. Hummus is made with pistachio butter and toasted pistachio oil in place of tahini and olive oil, and fudge is filled with nuts and candied summer fruits. Toasted pistachio oil is a perfect complement to bitter greens, with a squeeze of lemon and topped with chopped nuts.
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups ground shelled pistachio nuts
Confectioners’ sugar (to dust finished cookies)
Heat oven to 300 F. Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whip attachment, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Gradually add flour and salt, beating until completely incorporated. Fold in ground pistachios.
Divide dough in half and press each half into bottom of prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut each pan into 12 wedges and dust with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle with glaze.
Makes 24 wedges.
Glaze: In a small bowl, add 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup shelled chopped pistachio nuts, and mix until sugar is incorporated.
1/3 cup pistachio butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
6 to 8 tablespoons toasted pistachio oil, divided use
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons shelled chopped pistachio nuts
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add pistachio butter, garlic, chickpeas and 3 tablespoons of toasted pistachio oil. Pulse until smooth, adding pistachio oil, as needed, to achieve desired consistency. Add lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and additional toasted pistachio oil, as needed. Pulse to incorporate. Serve, topped with toasted pistachio oil and chopped pistachio nuts.
Makes about 3 cups.
Pistachio Lemon Pesto
3/4 cup fresh arugula
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup toasted pistachio oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add all ingredients and pulse until finally chopped and ingredients are incorporated. Serve on pasta of choice.
Makes 4 servings.
White Chocolate Summertime Pistachio Fudge
6 cups white chocolate chips
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shelled chopped pistachio nuts
2 cups chopped candied kiwi (check your local produce section)
2 cups chopped candied pineapple
Prepare a 9×13 inch pan.
In a large heavy pan over medium heat, melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes and fold in pistachios, kiwi, and pineapple. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares.
Makes 1 9×13 pan.
Pistachio and Arugula Compound Butter
1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1 cup fresh arugula
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add pistachios and pulse 5 to 6 times until nuts are chopped. Add balance of ingredients and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and incorporated. Serve on grilled steak, fish or chicken.
Makes about 2 cups.