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Pistachio: origins Sicilian properties and recipes

by Ada Parisi
5 min read
Pistacchio: origini proprietà e ricette siciliane

International Pistachio Day is celebrated on February 26: and for the World Pistachio Day 2021 I decided to tell you origins and properties of this extraordinary fruit accompanying the story with all my sweet and savory Sicilian recipes with pistachio . From arancini to cake, from semifreddo to lasagna. Those who follow me know that I love this product very much. Is, as Sicilian, i can't help but have a special love for the Green pistachio by Bronte Dop, Although there are other excellent pistachio varieties in the world and, in any case, pistachio is generally a fruit of well-being and health. I hope this article about pistachio (origins Sicilian properties and recipes) interest you and that from now on you can consume these little fruits with more taste.

Pistachio, sources and properties

Pistachio (Real pistachio), is a tree that belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae. Is’ native to the Middle East but now its cultivation has spread all over the world. Trees can reach 10 meters in height and are very long-lived. fruits are small seeds of green color, covered with a thin peel between the violet and the brown and enclosed in a hard shell.

Sicilian pistachio cake by Bronte Dop

Pistachios are an important source of carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein and zeaxantin) and polyphenols (anthocyanins, catechins and isoflavones) that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol (Ldl). In particular, anthocyanins have an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer action. Pistachios also contain vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6, in addition to vitamin C and vitamin E. Among the minerals, the potassium content stands out, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. High content in vegetable fiber and protein also helps prevent obesity, but beware of calories, since 30 grams of pistachios (the recommended portion as daily consumption of dried fruits) contain 160 calories, while 100 grams contain over 600 grams, 56% fat, 27% from carbohydrates and 18% from protein.

Pistachio production in the world

The main pistachio-producing countries are the United States (especially California), Turkey, Iran, Syria and Greece. Pistachio is produced in Italy in the Bronte area of Sicily, on the slopes of Etna, and there is a very small production also in Basilicata, in Stigliano. Sicilian production is obviously not comparable to that of the large producer countries, (we're talking about 1% of world production) but it's a very valuable pistachio. Bronte's green pistachio received the PDO brand in 2009 and is slow food presidium. To date, China is the world's largest consumer of pistachio, with a consumption of over 80.000 tons per year, while the United States consumes 45.000 tons, Russia 15.000 and India 10.000.

Bronte Dop Green Pistachio

Bronte Dop's Green Pistachio

Bronte Dop pistachio is produced in the Bronte area, in Sicily, between Adranao and Biancavilla, on the slopes of Etna, on lava soils. Lavarietà belongs to the botanical species “Real pistachio”, cultivar “Neapolitan”, call also “Bianca” or “Nostrale, 1st”, grafted onto "Pistacia terebinthus". Plants (just over 2000 out of over 3.000 acres) every two years in the period between August and September and the harvest is carried out by hand. The fruits, once the outer sllo is removed, dried in the sun or at controlled temperature. Bronte Dop pistachio is recognizable, compared to other types, because it has an elongated and poorly compressed shape and an emerald green seed covered with a ruby red skin that, Bothering, turns purple brown. Here you will find the production specification, to learn more about the topic.

Sweet and savory recipes with pistachio

In purity, in the form of grains, flour, neutral or sweetened pasta, pistachio lends itself to becoming the protagonist of many recipes both sweet and savory. Sicilian cuisine is obviously rich in recipes with pistachio and not only in the Etna area, where you produce.

Biscotti, easy and delicious

Pistachio cookies are among sicily's most beloved sweet recipes: starting from the classic PISTACHIO ALMOND PASTE gluten-free and butter-free, a triumph of unmissable taste in all the pastry shops on the island.

Among the simplest but tastiest pistachio biscuits are definitely to try the VEGAN PISTACHIO AND LEMON COOKIES (that non-vegans will also like). But even those at the PISTACHIO AND WHITE CHOCOLATE, perfect for soaking. Or my VERY SOFT PISTACHIO BISCUITS , covered with pistachio cream: greedy and exquisite, they are kept soft for a long time.

Cakes and tarts, for the sweet tooth

Pistachio lends itself exceptionally to the birth of truly amazing cakes and tarts. Sicilian pastry often combines pistachio with ricotta and I continuously draw inspiration from Sicilian ingredients to always create new sweets At the top of the list of the best recipes of sweets with pistachio there is definitely the BRONTE PISTACHIO CAKE a triumph of pistachio in the dough, in the cream, in the coverage. Easy to do, You'll love it.

Similar but enriched with wild strawberries and with ricotta in cream the PISTACHIO CAKE WITH CHEESE AND STRAWBERRIES it's a great classic, simple to prepare but elegant and perfect for a birthday or special occasion.

If you want to cheer your guests, then the CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH MASCARPONE CREAM AND PISTACHIO AND BERRIES It is for you: chocolate, Mascarpone, pistachio cream and lots of fruit for a choreographic and lush dessert.

If you prefer 'crunchy' sweets, with different textures, then pistachio tarts are definitely your kind. The base of shortbread or brisè or puff pastry can be filled with what you prefer and the pistachio enhances every type of filling. My tart with the absolute favorite pistachio is the PISTACHIO TART, WHITE CHOCOLATE AND LEMON. The secret is the neutral pistachio paste, so that the dessert is not too sweet. And you will see the doors of paradise open.

In second place, the TART WITH PISTACHIO FRANGIPANE CREAM AND PEACHES by Leonforte, also a Sicilian excellence and Slow Food presidium. Amazing, you can also prepare it with peaches in syrup.

Third place for the PISTACHIO PANNA COTTA TART and CARAMELIZED PEACHES, with a creamy panna cotta and the acidity of peaches. An elegant and timeless dessert.

Desserts, creamy temptation

Spoon cakes are easy, versatile and delicious. And the pistachio makes them irresistible. Let's start with the most beloved, the real PISTACHIO SEMIFREDDO, a classic of Sicilian ice cream parlour, prepared as you do in the best pastry shops on the island. Yet, the PISTACHIO BAVAROIS, creamy and perfect with a dark chocolate sauce, easy to prepare.

A little’ more hardworking, but it's a great classic of pastry, the MILLEFEUILLE WITH PISTACHIO AND COFFEE’ , with two different creams. Finally, the CITRUS CREAM AND PISTACHIO CUP, where to sink one teaspoon after another. Very simple to prepare.

Savory recipes with pistachio

Pistachio does not lend itself only to being used in pastry, but also in savory recipes. Sicilian cuisine is full of savory pistachio dishes, both as a protagonist and fundamental ingredient, both as a tasty garnish of the dish. Because if it's true that the origins of pistachio are Asian, Sicilian recipes can now not do without this ingredient with extraordinary properties.

One of the most loved Sicilian recipes is the PISTACHIO PESTO. Original recipe without cream and with nothing but pistachio and extra virgin olive oil. A pesto that I like to combine with prawns, but that you can use the way you like. The recipe that I loved the most this year was certainly that of the PISTACHIO RICE ARANCINI and mortadella, one of the most typical recipes of Sicilian and Catania cuisine in particular: try them and you will fall in love with them too

For those who do not give up baking, here are the PISTACHIO LASAGNE :Creamy, with an intense and delicate taste together. A perfect Sicilian first course for Sunday lunch. If you prefer the most delicate flavors and have little time to devote to cooking, here's the PASTA WITH RICOTTA MORTADELLA AND PISTACHIO, easy to prepare.

In summer mood, the recipe PASTA WITH CHERRY TOMATOES, SHRIMP AND PISTACHIO perfectly represents the essence of Sicilian cuisine: intense flavors, simplicity and elegance. Among the side dishes, the GRATIN GRATIN ONIONS IN PISTACHIO are a simple and delicious recipe, to be combined with the FENNEL GRATINATED PISTACHIO to create vegetarian and gluttonous alternatives.

The perfect recipe for those who love to dedicate themselves to leavened products is the PISTACHIO BOX BREAD, soft and fragrant, excellent to accompany cheeses and cold cuts but also with jams for breakfast.


International Pistachio Day is celebrated every February 26th, established to know and inform everyone about the properties of the pistachio. If my article on the “Pistachio: origins Sicilian properties and recipes” you liked it, here is a short bibliography to deepen the topic.


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