The Pistachio: A Turkish Delight Dessert
I firmly believe Pistachios are among the most nutritious nuts around. Numbers of people are discovering how enjoyable these delicious nuts can be. I remember as a little Greek girl, one of the most popular snacks around our house was the pistachio. My folks would nibble on these nuts throughout the day, calling them “peanuts from Greece.”
You see, Pistachios grow very well in Greece and also in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. I’m pretty sure that’s why the pistachio nut is called ‘the heart of the desert.’ You’ll find the Pistachio also growing in Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan.
In its simple form, the Pistachio nut is a sweet nut by nature. Many folks, whether vegetarian, vegan or not, enjoy its sweet delicious flavor. I have lived in southern California for a very long time now and have found that the pistachio has been a significant commodity since the ’50s.
While embarking on one of my many shopping sprees, I have discovered many unique flavors of the pistachio nut sold in markets, road-side stands and online ordering as well. Here are some, just to name a few:
- Salted and Roasted Pistachios
- Unsalted and Roasted Pistachios
- Red Chile Pistachios
- Extra Hot Red Chile
- Green Chile Pistachios
- Garlic and Green Chile
- Lemon and Lime Pistachios
As I mentioned earlier, pistachios grow around the Argo Saronika Islands off the shores of Attica. The Pistachio nut trees are well suited for areas where summers are long, hot and dry, and the winters are moderately cold. The nuts, splitting at the seams, are usually ready to be harvested around the beginning of September.
The Benefits of the Pistachio
I love eating these delicious nuts, knowing that they reduce some of the biological effects of acute stress and help in lowering my blood pressure. Pistachios also provide potassium to maintain healthy blood pressure. One serving (about 49 nuts) provides the same amount of protein in an ounce of soybeans.
You will get around 20% of your daily value of Vitamin B just in eating a serving of these yummy nuts. Research tells me that eating pistachios reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation in the body and increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
Pistachio nuts are all natural, cholesterol free, high in fiber, low in saturated fats and NO transfats and gluten free. An ounce of shelled pistachios contains 10% of an adult’s needed daily intake of protein, without animal fats. So impressive to know that there is more potassium and iron by weight in pistachios than in any other nut, fruit or vegetable. Wow, the Pistachio is indeed packed with nutrients, a good balance of calories and energy!
One can find so many interesting and delicious recipes using pistachios. Pistachio Pesto is a great choice and then there is Pistachio Ice Cream to enjoy. Pistachio Biscotti and cookies are a popular favorite, too. What I remember the most as a child is eating a sampling of sweet, sticky candy filled with pistachios.
Turkish Delight Recipe
This very popular sticky candy originated in Turkey in the 1700s. The candy was featured in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” by C.S. Lewis. The White Witch tempted the young child Edmund with Turkish Delight.
These jellied squares are studded with chopped pistachios and covered with powdered sugar.
2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons or more of rosewater
1 cup confectioners sugar or less for dusting
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
Vegetable oil or shortening
In a 9 inch baking pan, grease sides and bottom with vegetable oil. Line with wax paper and grease the wax paper.
In a saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup of water on medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to boil 220 degrees. Cover pot the last 5 minutes. Add flavor and nuts.
Pour into oiled shallow pan. Spread evenly and allow to cool overnight. When cool, cut into squares and roll each piece in sifted powdered sugar. Serve or store in airtight container in layers separated with wax or parchment paper or aluminum foil or place in a plastic bag. Most importantly, do not refrigerate.
Kali Orexi, Good Appetite!