Nutty but nice

Pistachios used to be one of those foods – like Cheetos or beets – that left a colorful mark. Remember snacking on a bag of magenta nuts and then your fingertips looking like you’d soaked them in coloring agent red No. 40? Nowadays, harvesting methods are less damaging to the shells, so it’s no longer necessary to use the bright dye to mask imperfections. Not only is pistachio your grandpa’s favorite ice cream flavor, but it’s also the nut du jour. A slightly sweet flavor and tender texture make pistachios a wonderful addition to foods both sweet and savory. Get cracking!

Pistachio-crusted Salmon

2 Servings

1 cup hulled salted pistachios
1 cup arugula
1 tsp. lemon zest, plus more for garnish, if desired
¼ cup olive oil
2 6-oz. salmon fillets, 1-inch thick

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Place the pistachios, arugula and lemon zest in a food processor. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil. Process until a thick paste forms.
• Place the salmon fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press an equal amount of pistachio paste on top of each fillet.
• Bake 20 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.

Pistachio and Fig Granola

7 cups

3 cups rolled oats
1½ cups hulled salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¾ cup coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1½ cups dried figs, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries or other chopped dried fruit
1 tsp. orange zest

• Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
• In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, brown sugar, agave, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. Pour the oil over the mixture and stir to coat.
• Using a spatula, evenly spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
• Remove from the oven, pour into a bowl and stir in the dried fruit and orange zest.
• Store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Pear and Pistachio Crisp

6 to 8 servings

4 to 5 pears (Bosc or Anjou), peeled, cored and chopped (about 4 cups)
1¼ cups hulled salted pistachios, chopped, divided
¾ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
½ Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a large bowl, combine the pears, 1 cup pistachios, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, cardamom, brown sugar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir well.
• Pour the pear mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.
• In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ¾ cup flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter. Stir until the mixture forms pea-sized lumps. Sprinkle over the pear mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup pistachios.
• Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream.