Pistachio nuts are a fall superstar just coming into season. Once considered a rare delicacy, these little green nutrition bombs are now a mainstream must-have.
Though we call them nuts, botanically they are seeds — each “nut” is the single, large seed of a fruit that looks like a teeny-weeny mango (pistachios and mangos are actually in the same botanical family). Although pistachio nuts are available on grocery shelves year-round, only the female trees bear the fruits (and only every other year) — part of what makes them a little pricey. Pistachios are harvested and available fresh for only a few weeks a year, between September and November.
Get them while they’re fresh now to make lots of great dishes where their richness is the highlight. Knafeh Nabulseyeh, a heralded dessert in the Middle East, is dusted with finely chopped pistachios. The nuts are used whole for pistachio brittle, a riff on the classic peanut brittle. The green of the nuts glows through the semi-translucent caramel. In pistachio pesto ramen, chopped pistachios add a flavor twist to standard pesto — which here is cheese-less, too — and they lend texture to the final dish as well. Chopped pistachios are a wise choice for pistachio-crusted quail, as pistachios stand up to heat better than most nuts and also retain their lovely green color for a nice presentation.
Fresh pistachios are available at select Middle Eastern markets and specialty stores as well as online.