Happy World Pistachio Day! Pistachios are one of the most reliable sources of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients in the Tree Nut family.

Pistachio nuts have been a part of the human diet for a long time, and they are so popular in several countries and cultures that some of them have given pistachios a special name. In China, they call the pistachio the “happy nut”, because it looks like the nut is “smiling.” Because of this, the nut is often given as a present in the Chinese New Year to bring health, happiness and good fortune.

In India, pistachios are served as a snack in winter to help people keep warm, but in Russia, people mainly eat them in summer.

Originating from the Middle East, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees. Humans have enjoyed them as far back as 7,000 B.C.  In America, pistachios were first planted in California in the 1930s.  From this point it took nearly 10 years of careful research and breeding before the California pistachio – also known as the Kerman variety – was finally perfected.

Today, California produces more than 400 million pounds of pistachios each year, making it a leading producer of pistachios worldwide.

Pistachios are a part of the tree nut family, and are rich in vitamin E, folic acid, fiber, magnesium, potassium, arginine, plant sterols and phytochemical compounds. They are a fantastic source of “good fats” and contain a low content of saturated fatty acids, among others.

According to the The International Nut & Dried Fruit Council, regular consumption of pistachios as part of a balanced diet can help reverse the risks associated with prediabetes and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

In celebration of this versatile nut, here’s a heart-healthy pistachio pesto salad recipe to try out:

Asparagus Spinach Pistachio Pesto Salad

Asparagus Spinach Pistachio Pesto Salad

Courtesy of The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • ¼ cup of pistachio nuts
  • ¼ cup of spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 pound package of uncooked pasta

Instructions

1. Add asparagus into a pot with boiling water and cook for 3 minutes.

2. Drain and chop the asparagus.

3. Add a cup of the chopped asparagus into a food processor along with the spinach, garlic, 2 tablespoons of pistachios, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Blend until it is a paste.

4. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Drain the pasta when done.

5. Add 1 cup of the pesto and half of the pasta water.

6. Chop the remaining pistachios.

7. Serve the pasta and garnish with the pistachios and grated Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

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