Who likes pistachios?
This week saw us celebrate World Pistachio Day, on February 26th. (There’s a day for everything isn’t there?)
Pistachios are something we don’t eat a lot of, so when I heard about World Pistachio Day, I thought it was a good opportunity to celebrate with dinner and dessert.
In China pistachios are known as the ‘happy nut’ as it looks like it’s smiling and is often given at Chinese New Year to bring health, happiness and good fortune. In India, they’re served as a snack in winter to help keep warm and in Russia they are mainly eaten in summer.
World Pistachio Day falls when harvesting of the nut starts in Australia. Originally from the deserts of Asia and the Middle East, it’s suited to some Australian climates, needing hot days and cold nights to bear fruit. And they’re botanically related to mangoes, peaches and nectarines.
For some reason I like pistachios with lamb and decided to grill some lamb cutlets and serve them with couscous and green beans.
The couscous was a Middle Eastern inspired dish, which I threw together.
Cook the couscous according to the packet directions. I cooked ½ cup and instead of using plain water, I used chicken stock to cook the couscous. To that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 cup of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, ¼ cup of chopped mint, ½ cup of cranberries, ½ cup of pistachios, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, two teaspoons of lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix this together and serve. For dessert I made pistachio ice cream. I absolutely love this recipe from Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker. Last year I needed to make a dessert for a Moroccan themed dinner and sought out a recipe for pistachio ice cream. I came across this one, and loved the story about how it came into being. You can read the original post here from the Brown Eyed Baker. It’s a beautifully flavoursome icecream, so I whipped that one up for desert!
1 1/3 cups shelled pistachios, plus an extra ¾ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
¾ cup caster sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
- Chop the 1 1/3 cups of pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, but not to a paste. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, warm the milk, caster sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the ground nuts. Cover, remove from the heat, and steep for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain the warm nut mixture through a cloth over a sieve, pressing on the nuts to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Return the milk and cream mixture to the saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a large bowl and set a cloth lined sieve on top.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the lined sieve and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir until combined.
- Refrigerate until cold. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. (I used the ice cream bowl attachment for my KitchenAid). Once finished churning, fold in the ¾ cup pistachios with a rubber spatula.
Pistachios have health and nutritional benefits. They are a good source of healthy fats, plant protein, plant sterols, dietary fibre, vitamin B6, iron, zinc and more. So nibble on a few or throw them into your next dish!
* Pistachio ice cream recipe from Michelle, the Brown Eyed Baker.
** Stock photo of pistachio nuts.