Pistachios and Snacking

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Sure, pistachios on their own are great to snack on. Taking the time to crack them is part of the fun and slows you down so you don’t eat too many. Buying the kernels and just popping them in your mouth works too. Afterall, 49 kernels are only 158 calories. You can even buy pistachios in yummy flavors like garlic and green chile, garlic and onion, and red chile and lime from places such as Heart of the Desert.


Believe it or not, there are a whole bunch of other snacks you can make with pistachios or just dress them up in your own favorite flavor profiles.

Aaron Brown, chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, uses in-shell pistachios tossed with beaten egg white to help the seasonings adhere. Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, there’s nowhere these spiced nuts can’t go.

Play around with the popular smoked salts, Maldon flaked salt, and truffle salt. Sugar works, too, so consider some sweet-and-spicy combinations. Chef Brown suggests date sugar and Aleppo pepper. “Sugar sticks to the egg white and gets the other spices to stick,” says Chef Brown. “And you can feel comfortable upping the heat because the sugar offsets it.” You can go Mexican with toasted cumin and oregano or Middle Eastern with za’atar and chiles. Chinese with five spices and crushed rock sugar or Greek with oregano and garlic.

House made charcuterie—aka salumi—is super popular these days. Count on bright green pistachios to enhance your charcuterie’s eye appeal. If you really want to get fancy, incorporate whole nuts in pâtés and terrines, in mortadella and duck sausage. Sprinkle crunchy chopped nuts on creamy chicken liver mousse or pork rillettes.


How about linking pistachio snacks with wine and beer?

Nothing surpasses the elegant simplicity of in-shell pistachios and sparkling wine. And with Chardonnay, pistachios are as compatible as bread with jam. Spread pistachio butter on a pistachio crostini for an easy Chardonnay-friendly snack. Grassy herbs like tarragon and dill make the link to Sauvignon Blanc—or make stuffed dolmas with dill and pistachios. Scent pistachios with woody herbs like rosemary and thyme to complement red wines such as Syrah and Zinfandel. And when pistachios get spicy, look to craft beer. Chef Robert Del Grande’s Pistachio Guacamole calls for a crisp, refreshing Pilsner. With sweet-and-spicy coated nuts, pour a sweet and spicy Belgian Dubbel.

And you can’t forget about some sweet treats.

Since Halloween is just around the corner, Monster Cookies with pistachios as the eyes and nose are appropriate. Date and Pistachio Balls are a sweet treat, but also a great afternoon pick-me-up. A Pistachio Granola Bar can pass for breakfast, or a morning or afternoon snack.

As you can see, pistachios are super versatile, and you can do so much with them. Eating them on their own is always appropriate but adding them to your snack dishes puts you in a class of your own.


Monster Cookies Recipe








YIELD: 24 cookies




  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (320° F, convection oven).
  2. Finely grind pistachios with flour, sugar, butter and egg and knead all together until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour. 
  3. Roll out the dough up to a thickness of ¼-inch; cut out round cookies to 4 inches, put the cookies on a lined; bake at 350° F (320° F. convection oven) 12-15 minutes, until they are golden brown. Leave cookies to cool on the wire rack.
  4. Melt nougat in the top of a double boiler, spread half of the cookies with nougat and cover each with another cookie.
  5. Also melt chocolate in a double boiler. Set on the top two small blobs of chocolate and a white chocolate drop as eye lens on it. Draw a pupil and eyebrows with the melted chocolate. Add pistachio kernels to a blob of chocolate for the eyebrows and nose. 
  6. Dry the cookies and serve them.


Preparation time: 65 minutes

Baking time: 12-15 minutes

Cooling time: 1 hour




Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico.  They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines.  Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings.  They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts.  The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.