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The Nonpartisan Pistachio


In this presidential election year, keep in mind that the person you vote for may be responsible for creating a new national food holiday. True, other levels of government such as state legislatures, governors, and mayors can proclaim special observance days, but you know you’ve hit the big time when the president makes it so.

Sometimes, however, bipartisan agreement can’t decide which day will be the “official” gustatory celebration. Perhaps that is what happened with National Pistachio Day. Is it January 26 or February 26? Many sources name both days. Perhaps they just broke it down along party lines and the “red” dyed pistachios are honored one day and the “au naturel” beige pistachio honored the other.

In my mind, everyday is Pistachio Day, especially Farmers Market days when I can run down and pick up a couple bags from the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company. The Zannon family developed a unique process for roasting and flavoring their incredibly high-quality nuts. But you don’t have to have flavored pistachios to enjoy their exotic little bits of nutty goodness; you can include them in your healthy cooking lifestyle, too.

Pistachio, Cranberry & Rice Pilaf

(Serves 2)

¼ c. finely chopped Vidalia onion

¼ tsp. turmeric

tsp. ground cardamom

1½ Tbs. unsalted butter

c. basmati rice

- c. chicken broth

2 Tbs. pistachio nuts, lightly toasted, cooled, and chopped

2 Tbs. dried cranberries

2 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions

In a small heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, cook onion with turmeric and cardamom in one tablespoon of the butter, stirring until the onion is softened. Add rice and cook, stirring until it is coated with the butter. Add the broth, bring the liquid to a boil, and cover and simmer the mixture for 17 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the pistachios, cranberries, and scallions and the remaining half tablespoon of butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

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