Pass the Pistachios!

Pistachio trees have grown in the Middle East for thousands of years. Pistachios have always been a desired delicacy in this region.

In ancient Persia, owners of pistachio groves were accorded high status. Legend has it that pistachios were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba, who demanded all her land’s production for herself and her court.

Throughout history, the pistachio was introduced to new lands by conquerors and explorers.

Cultivation of pistachios spread throughout the Mediterranean countries and eventually to the Americas. While the pistachio was used from early on in various ways for cooking in Italy, north of the Alps it was used primarily as an expensive addition to bakery goods. Only after World War II did the pistachio image gradually change from an expensive baking additive to a popular snack.

The pistachio received further distribution through vending machines installed in train stations, restaurants and other common locations. “A dozen for a nickel” soon developed into a familiar slogan.

By 2007, pistachio production in southern California, Arizona and New Mexico tripled and now represents a $2 billion industry.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a 3-gram serving of pistachios than a half cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Pistachios may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, and they have been shown to reduce the body’s biological response to stress. Forty-nine pistachios — a single serving — provides up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6 and protein; about the same as half an avocado or a serving of soybeans. Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat. When eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, they may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

Pistachios are perfect for eating and snacking, but they are also a tasty addition to appetizers, salads, fish, poultry and desserts.

Try one of these delicious pistachio recipes today!

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

  • 10–12 oz. fresh salmon, 4 fillets
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/8 cup unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375° F.

If your salmon has skin still attached, leave it on to lock in extra moisture. Drizzle a light coating of olive oil on salmon. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour honey over salmon halves and gently rub honey into the flesh, using the back of a spoon. Spread chopped pistachios flat in a plate and press the fish, flesh side down, onto the pistachios, generously covering the surface. Place pistachio-covered salmon into an oven-safe dish or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Place in heated oven for 12–15 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Triple-Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Dark chocolate and pistachios go very well together.

  • 18 Tbs. margarine, softened at room temperature (2 1/4 sticks)
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups shelled pistachio nuts
  • (not salted)
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) baking chocolate or cookie dip for coating

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat until well-combined, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Add flour mixture, and stir to form a stiff dough. Stir in pistachios and chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half and divide each half into three. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet; form each part into a flattened log, about 10 by 3 inches. Bake until slightly firm, about 20–25 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes. Reduce oven to 300°.

Transfer biscotti to a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut biscotti diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet, and bake until crisp but still slightly soft in the center, about 7–8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

Chop baking chocolate and melt in a double boiler or microwave. Prepare a cooling rack on your countertop over some foil or parchment paper.

Dip each slice of biscotti diagonally into the melted chocolate. Place on the cooling rack to dry. Allow to dry 30 minutes. Store in airtight container for 4 days, or freeze.

Caramel-Pistachio Halvah Tart

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup (packed) crumbled plain halvah (about 7 oz.)
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled margarine or shortening, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (topping)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup natural unsalted pistachios (about 4 oz.), toasted
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg white


  • 1/2 cup whipped topping
  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet
  • chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup

Prepare the crust:

Combine flour, halvah, sugar and salt in processor. Using pulses, process until blended to sandy texture. Add margarine or shortening. Keep pulsing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk egg yolks and 2 tablespoons ice water in a small bowl to blend. Add to flour mixture. Again pulsing, process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into 2 balls; flatten into disks. Wrap separately in plastic. Chill 1 hour.

For filling:

Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and boil until syrup turns deep amber or clip-on candy thermometer registers 360°F, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 11 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from heat. Carefully stir in cream (mixture will bubble). Add oil and whisk until smooth. Stir in pistachios. Cool until lukewarm but still pourable, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Roll out 1 dough disk between 2 sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper to 11-inch round (dough will be about 1/3-inch thick). Remove top paper. Invert dough into prepared pan. Remove remaining paper. Trim dough overhang.

Roll out second dough disk between 2 sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper to 10-inch round. Pour filling into prepared crust. Brush edges of crust with egg white. Remove top paper from second dough disk. Invert over filling. Remove paper. Be sure to press dough around pan until the edges to trim and seal.

Place tart on baking sheet and bake until crust is golden, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Chill overnight.

For glaze:

Bring cream just to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and corn syrup; whisk until smooth. Cool 5 minutes.

Remove sides from tart pan. Invert tart onto rack. Remove bottom of tart pan. Pour warm glaze over tart (bottom of tart becomes top). Let stand until glaze sets. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Slice into thin wedges and serve.