Scientific Name: Pistacia vera
Common Name: Pistachio, Pistache
Part Used: Fruit
Pistachio is a desert plant and a member of the cashew family. The tree can grow up to 10 meters tall and has deciduous leaves. The pistachio fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed with a hard, whitish outer shell and thin, brownish-red skin. The seed is the edible part, and it is often roasted and salted before consumption.
● Pistachios are a natural and healthy snack that are a good source of energy.
● They are high in protein, containing 21.2 grams per 100 grams of roasted salted pistachios.
● Pistachios also contain a variety of essential minerals and vitamins, including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc, and iron.
● They are rich in unsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health and can help reduce cholesterol levels.
● Pistachios are also a good source of dietary fiber and are low in carbohydrates.
● While they are high in calories, eating them in moderation as part of a healthy diet is unlikely to lead to weight gain.
The first known mention of edible nuts refers to pistachios, with archaeological findings dating back to 6760 B.C. in present-day Jordan. Pistachios were considered food and grew widely in high-positioned desert regions.
Pistachios have a “royal character” and were reportedly a favorite delicacy of the Queen of Sheba. They also have cultural significance, with a story of lovers meeting under pistachio trees during moonlit nights, listening to the cracking of their nuts as a sign of happiness.
Pistachios were brought to Europe from Syria during the reign of Tiberius in the 1st century A.D. and subsequently spread to be grown in other Southern European countries. In Iran, pistachio trees have been growing for centuries, with Kerman province being their main growing area. Iran is a major producer and processor of pistachios in the world, with a volume of production reaching 100 to 200 thousand tons every year.
In the USA, the first pistachios were brought to California around 1854, and commercial growing on plantations only started to develop around 1970. The production of pistachios in California has increased rapidly until the present day, with the government’s support making it a profitable business for many growers.
● Heart health: Pistachios may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by improving cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
● Weight management: Despite being high in calories and fat, pistachios may actually aid in weight management as they are filling and satisfying, leading to fewer overall calories consumed.
● Blood sugar control: Pistachios have a low glycemic index and may help improve blood sugar control, making them a good option for those with diabetes.
● Eye health: Pistachios contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases.
● Gut health: Pistachios are a good source of fiber, which can promote healthy digestion and may also help lower the risk of colon cancer.
● Nutrient-rich: Pistachios contain a variety of important nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
● Choose pistachios that are plump, uniformly shaped, and have a greenish-yellow color.
● Look for pistachios that have their shells partially open, as this indicates that they are ripe and ready to eat.
● Avoid pistachios that have a dull color or appear shriveled, as this may indicate that they are old or stale.
● Check the label for any additional information, such as the country of origin or the date they were harvested.
● Store unshelled pistachios in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard.
● Once shelled, pistachios should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness.
● Pistachios can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months and in the freezer for up to 6 months.If the pistachios have a strong odor or taste rancid, they should be discarded.
1 lb pasta
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
● Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
● Meanwhile, make the pesto by blending the basil, pistachios, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
● Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
● Toss the pasta with the pesto, adding a little bit of the reserved pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.
● Serve hot, garnished with extra pistachios and Parmesan cheese.
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
● In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt. Pulse until smooth and creamy.
● Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and top with chopped pistachios.
● Serve with pita chips, crackers, or fresh vegetables for dipping.