Root did make sense, though, when he added that the pistachio "seems to confer heightened brilliance" on any dish. (The color comes from chlorophyll, the same component that makes leaves on the pistachio tree green.) It's one reason pistachios are always added to mortadella and pâtés, which certainly don't need the extra fat.
In most cases, salted pistachios work best in recipes. The plain ones are sweet and rich but need just that edge of extra flavor to bring out the fullest taste. I've also found that as convenient as shelled pistachios are, you get stronger, fresher flavor from those you hull yourself.
Pistachios have come so far that they make the Martian-green ice cream we all grew up eating seem as dated as Jell-O. I hadn't had any in eons until curiosity drove me to the freezer case the other week. The first surprise was the color: honestly white. The second was the taste, which was way too sweet to my newly refined palate. The real flavor was in the fat green nuts in every spoonful, with no food coloring needed. The pistachio revolution has even come to the cone.
Pennette with pistachios and Gorgonzola
Time: 25 minutes
Coarse sea salt
3/4pound pennette pasta
1 1/2tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white part only, washed well and very thinly sliced
3/4cup heavy cream
6 ounces Gorgonzola, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground white pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pennette according to the package directions until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and a dash of sea salt and cook, stirring, until very soft, about 4 minutes. Add the cream and heat to a simmer.