LOS ANGELES February 25, 2015 – Thursday is National Pistachio Day, so what does that mean to you?
Unfortunately, not much. You won’t see parades, fanfare or carnivals, but despite the lack of celebration around the supposed national holiday we are here to help, because we LOVE pistachios.
What is a pistachio? A pistachio is a tree nut that comes from a drupe fruit. When a pistachio ripens the hard shell that encases the nut splits open. As the pistachio nut ripens, it changes from a bright green color to a darker shade of green and eventually to an almost brown color.
What does a pistachio taste like? An unsalted pistachio is smooth in texture and finishes with a slightly sweet flavor. The pistachio is also encased in a thin edible wrapper that gives it an earthy flavor.
When the nut is young and green, it is slightly soft and less sweet, but as it matures it becomes harder and sweeter.
How to eat a pistachio? Like all nuts, it requires that the outer shell must be removed or cracked. Pistachios split, so they’re usually easy to open. On the off chance you desire to eat a completely closed pistachio, you will need to find the appropriate nut-cracking tool to open the seed.
However, it won’t be as palatable as a ripened pistachio.
Are pistachios good for you? There are more nuts per one ounce serving of pistachios than any other snack nut. They are cholesterol-free, and — the most amazing fact — one serving of pistachios has as much potassium as a half a banana.
Where to use a pistachio? A pistachio is one of the oldest nuts, and it’s even in the Bible (Genesis 43:11). Different cultures use pistachios in different dishes, and it can be found in both sweet and savory recipes. Pistachios can be used in or on ice cream, in chicken dishes and even in salads.
Where can I buy and how much are pistachios? Pistachios are found at any major grocery store. They’re expensive because they can grow only in certain dry climates, like certain areas of California. The tree also takes time to reach maturity; it can be harvested after 5 to 7 years.
White Chocolate Pistachio Bark
2 cups white chocolate
½ cup toasted unsalted pistachios
a touch of cayenne
½ sheet pan
Cut your parchment paper to fit your ½ sheet pan. Grease the parchment paper and set it aside.
Fill a small pot a quarter of the way with water and get a clean stainless steel bowl that fits over the top.
Be careful NOT to let any water get into the bowl.
Tempering the chocolate is not necessary, but if you desire a shinier chocolate you can (the process of preparing couverture for dipping, coating, molding, and other purposes is called tempering*). Keep the water on medium low to prevent overheating the chocolate.
Place the chocolate into a bowl and slowly melt it. Keep an eye on the chocolate so that it doesn’t get too hot and become hard and dull. Add the pistachios and cayenne and lightly mix.
Spread the mixture over the parchment paper with a greased spatula and let it cool until hardened. Then break it into many pieces.
Check out Chef Mary’s Web site to find out how to temper.