Pronunciation: [pih-STASH-ee-oh; pih-STAH-shee-oh]

Cultivated in California, Italy, Turkey and Iran, the pistachio nut has a hard, tan shell that encloses a pale green nut. The shells of some pistachios are colored red (with vegetable dye), while others have been blanched until white. The California Pistachio Commission states that these nuts are dyed for two reasons: because many people find that form familiar; and so they're easier to spot in a bowl of mixed nuts. Pistachios are available year-round shelled and unshelled, either raw or roasted and salted or not. When buying unshelled pistachios make sure the shells are partially open—not only because it's a great help in getting the nutmeat out, but because closed shells mean the nutmeat is immature. Pistachio nuts have a delicate, subtle flavor that is wonderful either for eating out of hand or for flavoring both sweet and savory dishes. Pistachio nuts are rich in calcium, thiamine, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin A. See also nuts.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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