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Cooking with Pistachios

By Michele

After purchasing a large bag of roasted, salted and shelled pistachios from Costco, I began to think about how to use them in creative and delicious ways. Mind you, all while eating them by the handful!

I decided to invite some friends to join me on my patio for a “pistachio” lunch experience and told them I would forgo the usual soup and sandwich. They accepted with gusto! The menu included an appetizer, entrée and dessert.

But, first, let’s discuss these little gems. Pistachios are the seeds of the pistachio tree. They’re usually green, and they taste slightly sweet. They’re called nuts, but, botanically, pistachios are seeds. I’m using an interesting photo of a pistachio tree because, I never really thought about their origin. Learn something new every day!

Pistachios also boast a high amount of antioxidants, second only to walnuts and pecans. As you know, antioxidants help fight against free radicals, which are compounds in your body that can harm cells, proteins, and DNA, causing premature aging as well as illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Pistachios are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids and potassium. Both of which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits.


For the appetizer, I served two versions of crostini using a pistachio pesto. One crostini was sweet with orange zest and honey, while the other was savory with fried spam. Spam?  I know, but don’t knock it until you try it. I do believe that is Spam’s slogan and it’s very true! Think of it like bacon - crispy and salty.

Crostini with Kale and Pistachio Pesto

Ingredients for Pesto

½ cup shelled pistachios

1 handful of baby kale

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup olive oil (approximately)


Preparation of Pesto

  1. Place baby kale into food processor, followed by pistachios and cheese.

  2. Pulse several times to chop ingredients.

  3. Once mixture is finely chopped, with the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil to form a paste to your desired consistency.

  4. Taste for seasoning adjustment – add salt and pepper as necessary.

Savory Crostini


4 slices of Spam, cut thin

4 pieces of crostini, homemade or store bought

¼ cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon pesto, divided into 4 servings

Balsamic glaze

Baby kale for garnish



  1. Fry Spam until slightly golden on edges.

  2. Spread 3 teaspoons of ricotta cheese on each crostini, cover with one slice of Spam

  3. Top with ¼ teaspoon of pesto, or more to your liking

  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze

  5. Garnish with kale leaf

Sweet Crostini


4 pieces of crostini, homemade or plain store bought

¼ cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon of pesto, divided into 4 servings

Zest of 1 orange

Honey for drizzle



  1. Spread 3 teaspoons of ricotta cheese over each crostini.

  2. Top with ¼ teaspoon of pesto, or more to your liking.

  3. Sprinkle orange zest over each crostini.

  4. Drizzle honey on top.  

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

Texturally this dish is soft and crunchy with notes of spice and salt.


1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios, crushed

2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted

4 6-ounce salmon fillets, with or without skin

Salt and pepper

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. Combine pistachios, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and butter in a small bowl; stir with a fork until evenly combined.

  3. Lightly season salmon fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.

  4. Brush tops of salmon evenly with Dijon mustard. Top with pistachio mixture, pressing mixture down onto salmon.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until salmon flakes easily with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes.

Honey Pistachio Palmiers


1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

½ cup roughly chopped pecans

2/3 cup roughly chopped pistachios (I used roasted and salted)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated nutmeg

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or plain granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry. Roll into a 12 x 9" rectangle.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Spread over pastry to within half-inch of the edges.

  4. With long side facing you, start rolling to the middle, then repeat with the far side also rolling inward to middle. Crimp both ends closed. Refrigerate for 15 minutes until firm enough to cut.

  5. Cut into 1/2" slices. Place two inches apart on baking sheet. Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks.

  7. Cool for 15 minutes prior to plating.


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