The Perfect Pistachio

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Melinda Strauss
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pistachios

To me, the pistachio is a hard nut to top. It’s salty, sweet, and extremely healthy (in moderation, of course). I have fond memories of sitting at my Savtah’s kitchen table in Seattle, where I grew up, snacking on a big bowl of pistachios. My mom would tell me to stop eating them because I would finish the entire bowl, leaving a pile of salty shells in my wake. As much as I enjoy them, I always thought the pistachio was an unhealthy snack, but it turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong!

In addition to their taste, all of the health benefits make the pistachio nut an even more appealing ingredient. So why not take this super food to the next level with a menu of all new recipes that feature the wonderful flavor of pistachios! That’s what is so great about being a cook in your own kitchen. You can try new things, bring back old memories while creating new ones, and have a great time in the process.

Whole Wheat Couscous Cakes

These mini couscous cakes are a fantastic appetizer or side dish and the pistachios really stand out. Of course, after making sure your guests aren’t allergic to any nuts, you are ready to get started and maybe even snack along the way! This recipe is so simple, even my husband could make it! And that’s saying a lot. Trust me. Start out by cooking the whole wheat couscous for 5 minutes. Next, add the pistachios, flat-leaf parsley, eggs, salt and pepper, and you are ready to form the cakes. With damp hands, form 16 small cakes and get ready to fry in extra-virgin olive oil.

Once the couscous cakes are ready, serve them over a bed of lightly dressed arugula and watch your guests devour every last one of them. For the full recipe, click here.

patties
pistachio cake

Whole Wheat Couscsou Cake

Strawberry-Fig Pistachio Tart

Now on to dessert! Let’s start with the beautiful tart that will truly wow your guests. It is so simple but looks very complicated and the pistachios are truly the star. I use frozen puff pastry, which always tastes delicious and is so easy to work with. The trick is to roll out the dough until very thin. Poke with holes and cook in the oven with a baking sheet inserted on top in order to keep the pastry very flat and crusty. Next, top with a mixture of chopped pistachios and sugar and continue cooking until golden brown. Even without the strawberries and figs, this pastry is scrumptious. You can just cut it in to slices and serve with orange spiced whipped cream. But WAIT, there’s more to come!

strawberries
figs


Here is the fun part. Layer thinly sliced strawberries and figs in any pattern on top of the pistachios, then brush the top with warmed blood orange marmalade and sprinkle the edges with roughly chopped pistachios. The pastry slices so easily and you can eat the tart almost like a pizza. Hey, you can just call this recipe pistachio pizza and your kids will come running. Here is the full “pistachio pizza” recipe.

pistachio tart

Strawberry Pistachio Tart

Pistachio Meringues

Thought I was done? Here’s one more dessert that will surely have your guests making room for more. These meringues are so light and airy with a great crunch, and the addition of chopped pistachios will create what my son calls “crunchy volcanoes.” Whip together egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and finely chopped pistachios and you are ready to pipe!

This recipe makes a lot of delicious meringues that will last all week, if they don’t get eaten right away! Pipe them on to parchment paper and sprinkle roughly chopped pistachios over the top for extra interest and flavor. Next, bake for 2 hours at 225 degrees and let them cool. For the full recipe, click here.

stiff meringue
meringues

Pistachio Meringues

I hope you and your guests enjoy the perfect pistachio as much as I do. Now dig in!
For more kosher recipes, cooking tips and personal stories, visit kitchen-tested.com.