Recently when I visited a delicious pizza place in Baltimore, I realized that their pesto pizza was not made with traditional pine nuts. Instead, the pesto incorporated pistachios which made the pesto have this unreal creaminess to go along with the mild sweetness that a pistachio brings. Being a Iranian-American, pistachios are in my blood, literally my entire childhood there was always a bowl full of pistachios.
In Farsi, pistachios are called pesteh now whether there is a linguistic link to the two, one must ask the interwebs. Luckily I did that for all of us:
The word pistachio comes from medieval Italian pistacchio, which is from classical Latin pistacium, which is from ancient Greek pistákion and pistákē, which is generally believed to be from Middle Persian, although unattested in Middle Persian. Later in Persian, the word is attested in Persian as pesteh. As mentioned, the tree came to the ancient Greeks from Western Asia
The pistachio came west by way of Central Asia, the Romans brought pistachios to their empire by way of Syria and then into Europe. The top producer of pistachios in the world is Iran, followed by the USA and Turkey. The tree is a warm weather plant, so it likes an almost desert like environment rather than a humid muggy environment. That’s why you California as a great producer of pistachios because it’s basically the perfect weather for the pistachio tree. Pistachios are a big time money crop, each pistachio trees on average produce 50,000 seeds every 2 years! In just the USA alone, pistachios have a half a billion dollar economic impact in the States where it grows.
From a food standpoint, pistachios are rich in nutrients, from good fats, to an assorted array of vitamins and minerals, they are one of the more nutrient dense foods that you can eat on a daily basis. In Persian cuisine, they usually find themselves at a coffee table to be consumed as a snack or within some sort of delicious dessert. Often times, pistachios are sliced thin and sprinkled on top of all sorts of desserts.
Until I tried the pesto pizza at Verde I always that pistachios should be limited to desserts, but boy was I wrong. The pizza at Verde combined pistachio pesto with crumbled bits of sausage and mozzarella. This delicious trinity of fat was so perfect that I literally just wanted it all the time. With that delicious memory in mind, I sought out how to make it at home as any good enterprising fatso does.
Recipe – Pistachio Pesto
2 garlic cloves (with skin on)
1/2 cup shelled roasted salted pistachios
2 cups loosely packed basil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Step 1- In a warm pan, toss the garlic cloves with their skin on until they brown slightly, this will take some of the pungent garlic flavor away, leaving you with a nice mild garlic flavor instead.
Step 2- Combine al the ingredients in a food processor.
Step 3- Run until smooth, if you need to add more olive oil or garlic to your taste.
This freezes remarkably well, I poured it into a little ice cube trays and froze them, then stored them in a ziplock bag.
- 2 garlic cloves (with skin on)
- ½ cup shelled roasted salted pistachios
- 2 cups loosely packed basil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Step 1- In a warm pan, toss the garlic cloves with their skin on until they brown slightly, this will take some of the pungent garlic flavor away, leaving you with a nice mild garlic flavor instead.
- Step 2- Combine al the ingredients in a food processor.
- Step 3- Run until smooth, if you need to add more olive oil or garlic to your taste.
- This freezes remarkably well, I poured it into a little ice cube trays and froze them, then stored them in a ziplock bag.