The Pistachio had been growing in the Middle East for several thousand years before its introduction and growth in popularity in Italy. The pistachio was considered a luxury in Persia (now Iran) before making its way through Greece, thanks to Alexander the Great, and then Spain. It would not be until after WWII would pistachios become a popular snack. Today, 98.5% of the pistachio crop is found in California.
Commonly used for baking, pistachios can be found in scones, cakes, pasta sauces, stir fry, and numerous other dishes. Pistachios are a tree nut loaded with vitamins and minerals. While many think this type of nut may be loaded with calories due to fat content, a one-ounce serving is equal to 49 nuts – more than any other snack nut. Only containing about 1.5g of saturated fat, the bulk of a pistachio’s fat content is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which is good for heart health.
Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, while also providing 10% of your daily fiber and 6g of protein. Just one serving of pistachios contains as much potassium as an entire orange. Studies have found that eating tree nuts, like pistachios, help manage weight, blood sugar, and can decrease the risk of heart and respiratory diseases for both men and women.
Age to introduce: Over 12 months old, finely ground.
WARNING: All nuts, whole and chopped, are a choking hazard and should be introduced between 2- 3 years old. The nut allergy is common, and in some cases can be fatal. Children with asthma or a family history of asthma, eczema, and hay fever are at a higher risk. In these situations, consult your family physician before you introduce any nuts or seeds into your child’s diets.
Pistachios for the Family:
At the market: Pistachios are sold raw or roasted, with or without the shell, salted, flavored, etc. Look for them in the nut section or bulk food aisle at the supermarket. Choose vacuum-sealed packaging for longer shelf life, as pistachios can last as long as one year. If you are looking to buy in a bulk and store for a longer period, look for pistachios with added BHA/BHT.
Storage: Keep pistachios in vacuum-sealed packaging at room temperature or in a cold place for long-term storage.
Pistachio Recipes (from the American Pistachio Growers):
American Pistachio Fruit Salad Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and lime juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon grated lime peel
- 1/8 teaspoon dried mint, crushed
- Dash of salt
- ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
Directions: Combine all ingredients expect pistachios and mix well. Mix in pistachios just before serving. Makes 1 cup.
American Pistachio and Pasta Party Salad
- 6 ounces cut macaroni or shell pasta (2 cups dry)
- ½ cup non-fat mayonnaise
- ½ cup non-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2-3 medium garlic cloves (pressed or finely minced)
- ½ cup chopped pistachios
- 1 bunch basil
- 3 medium bell peppers
Directions: Boil 2 quarts of water and add pasta. Cover and return to boil. Boil for 7-8 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse. Add pasta and toss lightly to blend with mix. Chill until serving.
To grill peppers, place on grill and turn peppers for 15 minutes or until the skin blackens. To broil, place peppers in shallow pan and broil 3 inches from heat. Turn as needed for 15-25 minutes or until skin is blackened. Place peppers in plastic bag and steam for 15 minutes. Peel and cut into thick slices.
Remove the basic leaves from the steams. Stack leaves and slice diagonally in slender strips. Add ½-cup basil strips and pistachios (leave 2 tablespoons) to the pasta; stir together. Spread the basil and peppers around the pasta. Sprinkle the leftover pistachios before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
American Pistachio Fruit Chews:
- ½ cup dried apricots or pears
- ½ cup dried apples
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- ½ cup pistachios, chopped
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
Directions: Place dried fruits, pistachios, orange peel and juice into a food processor (or chop into fine pieces) until completely mixed. Divide mix into 16 equal pieces and shape into blocks, topping off with powdered sugar.
Makes 4 servings (4 pieces per serving).
These delicious recipes and many more can be found on American Pistachio Growers web site.