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Pistachio: Characteristics, Nutrition and Uses

Blog Italian tradition Italian traditional meal pistacchio pistachio

written by Carmine J. Pezzullo



Pistachio is certainly one of the most re-evaluated food products in recent years.

In every restaurant, pizzeria, or pastry shop, at least one pistachio-based dish is always present on the menu.

Even on social networks, videos and photos of exquisite preparations are popular where the predominant color is the characteristic green of this fantastic fruit.

In short: pistachio is now a real "Trend Food" that everyone seems to like. This, also because, with its characteristic flavour, it lends itself very well to many combinations, both sweet and savoury.

The history of Pistachio

Pistachio, from the Latin “Pistacia vera”, is a fruit tree belonging to the Anacardiaceae family and of the Pistacia genus. Today it is cultivated in many countries of the world, but it is native to the Middle East, where it was already cultivated in prehistoric times, particularly in Persia.

In Italy, the cultivation of pistachio is carried out almost exclusively in Sicily and, in particular, in the province of Catania where it was introduced by the Arabs when they snatched it from the Byzantines.

Since then, pistachio trees found in the territory of the island and, in particular on the slopes of Etna, a perfect habitat for luxuriant growth. Over the centuries, the Sicilian pistachio has developed, thanks to the volcanic soils and the mild climate, unique characteristics that differentiate it from any other type of pistachio grown in other areas of the world.

Not surprisingly, the Sicilian pistachio has taken on a specific name "Green Pistachio" and, in 2009, the European Union recognized a protected designation of origin, or "Pistachio Verde di Bronte D.O.P.".

In Sicily, the harvest takes place between August and September, the fruits are tickled and dropped into the bags tied to the neck of the collectors, or, where possible, on the sheets under the trees. But only once every two years, because in the following year the twigs where the fruits sprout are removed from the trees to allow the plant to rest and resist adversity more.

The Properties of Pistachio 

Pistachio is not only truly delicious food, but also extremely beneficial for health, thanks to its particular nutritional properties. Recent studies have shown that the consumption of dried fruit, including pistachio, favours the prevention of obesity. 

Moderate consumption of dried fruit does not lead to weight gain within a balanced diet and allows the body to provide beneficial fatty acids and proteins of plant origin, as well as mineral salts. An example is calcium, iron, and magnesium, in different quantities depending on the type chosen. 

According to research conducted in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the University of Messina, pistachios represent an important source of antioxidants and polyphenols that are released from the food during digestion. 

According to experts, pistachios and nuts should be integrated regularly into the diet, in order to enjoy their benefits. In fact, they contribute to the reduction of LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and contribute to the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The intake of pistachios helps to raise the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good one) in the blood, as well as providing vegetable fibers, oleic acids, and monounsaturated fats necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Pistachios are rich in vitamin E and carotenoids, substances which, in the opinion of experts, contribute to maintaining the integrity of the cell membranes of the mucous membranes and skin, while also offering protection against the action of free radicals.

Pistachios are also a source of B vitamins thanks to the high content of folic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid (or vitamin B5) and vitamin B6.

100 grams of pistachios provide 144% of the recommended daily amount for the intake of copper, a mineral involved in metabolism, in the synthesis of red blood cells, and in the functioning of neurotransmitters. They are also rich in phosphorus, a mineral that contributes to increasing glucose tolerance.

For this reason, their intake has been evaluated as a possible ally in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Finally, the presence of two rare carotenoids in dried fruit makes pistachios useful food for protecting the eyes and eyes from the action of free radicals. In this regard, the reference is to their content of lutein and zeaxanthin, both substances which have been related to the reduction of the risk of macular degeneration caused by aging. 

Many people, even today, see pistachios as a simple snack to eat occasionally. In fact, as we have mentioned, pistachio is food that with its characteristic flavour lends itself to many preparations and combinations.

How to use Pistachio in the kitchen

Many of you will think that its use in the kitchen is complex and elaborate, but it is not quite so: the expert Sicilian producers have come to meet us with two preparations that simplify our life and make the use of pistachio simple and fast, limited only from our imagination. 

The two preparations in question are salted "Pistachio Pesto" and sweet "Pistachio Cream".

Pistachio Pesto is as simple as it is versatile and delicious. This is made up of a few simple ingredients such as chopped Sicilian pistachios, oil, salt, and pepper.

We have already prepared several recipes with this fantastic product, combining it with cubes of red tuna but also with burrata and mortadella, also preparing an exquisite baked pasta and thus demonstrating that the combinations are many and all of sure success, take a look here:

Pistachio with Red Tuna

Pistachio with Mortadella and Burrata

Baked Pasta with Mortadella and Cacio

The Pistachio Cream, on the other hand, can be described in just two words, exquisitely delicious. We challenge you to taste a teaspoon of pistachio cream and stop, it will be practically impossible, in fact, an irrepressible desire will arise to grab a croissant, a brioche, or even a simple slice of bread and fill it with this delicious cream.



It is therefore needless to say that there are countless uses for this preparation, from specific desserts to the filling of crepes or ice cream, every moment and method will be the right one to use the pistachio cream and sweeten the day a little.

As for everything, the necessary clarifications must be made, not all pistachio pesto and creams on the market have the same good quality.

When we analysed the various labels of products on the market, and the great majority of them do not certify that all the pistachio used is grown in Sicily, but rather that it comes from the most disparate places, we also found several components that we would not have wanted to find. In almost all products we have found the presence of dyes, preservatives, and sweeteners, that damage the real flavour and kills the majority of good nutrients of this fantastic product. 

For this reason, we decided to choose the best producer from Bronte (Catania, Sicily) for our pesto and pistachio cream. Both products are born, and made, from 100% Sicilian pistachios, grown and processed in the traditional way. 

The percentage of pistachio is as high as possible and reaches the 80% in the pesto, to which are added a few other simple ingredients such as oil, salt, and pepper, all for an intense and inimitable but, above all, natural flavour. Give a look to this fantastic and authentic Sicilian excellences:

  • Sicilian pistachio pesto
  • Sicilian pistachio sweet cream

  • We also decided to pay homage to this fantastic product with a pistachio-themed box, the "pistachio box", try it to discover the flavours of the Sicilian pistachio in its various forms.

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