Mar 10, 2019

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies, italian, italy, pistachio, pista, sicily, sicilian, recipe, cookies, gluten free, dairy free, authentic, simple, chez panisse, alice waters,

From the Italian isle of Sicily comes a delightfully chewy macaroon-like cookie. Fragrant pistachios are paired with a hint of bright citrus in this dairy-free and gluten-free sweet treat.

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies, italian, italy, pistachio, pista, sicily, sicilian, recipe, cookies, gluten free, dairy free, authentic, simple, chez panisse, alice waters,

While looking for a cookie recipe that featured lots of pistachio flavor and color for the upcoming "wearing 'o' the green" on St. Patrick's Day I found this gem in Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome, Rome Sustainable Food Project (2010) by Mona Talbott. Alice Waters visited the American Academy in Rome and found the fare served to the dynamic international community to be rather bland and typically institutional. Ms. Waters then began a project with Chez Panisse alum Mona Talbott to create authentic, simple, and delicious recipes for favorite dishes served at the academy’s communal table. This cookbook was one of a series devoted to different foodstuffs. The photos are charming, the recipes are well written, and the ingredients are so Italian they may be difficult to find outside the United States (much less Nepal).

Sicilian Pistachio Cookies, italian, italy, pistachio, pista, sicily, sicilian, recipe, cookies, gluten free, dairy free, authentic, simple, chez panisse, alice waters,
Gloriously green Bronte pistachios from the foothills of Mt. Aetna.
I love this type of Italian cookie as they're so full of flavor yet not terribly sweet. Their low sugar content and lack of wheat flour make them an excellent choice for those of us avoiding carbohydrates and gluten. I did deviate a little from the original recipe. As written, the recipe called for raw, unsalted pistachios. I used roasted and salted pistachios as that is all that is available here. (I loved the slight saltiness they gave to the cookies.) Shelling a 500g/1lb bag of pistachios rendered only one and a half cups of kernels. So I substituted ground almonds for the rest of the pistachios. (DESTROYED MY MANICURE!) The pistachios we get here in Nepal are from Iran, very small, pale yellow, flavorsome, but probably not first quality. To try to mimic the intense green of the famed Bronte pistachios of Sicily I added a drop of green food coloring to the dough. I also substituted orange zest for the lemon zest called for as written in the recipe which worked really well. (We do not have the yellow Lisbon lemons as used in Mediterranean cuisines here in Nepal.) The cookies baked up beautifully and I've been thoroughly enjoying them with my afternoon tea this week! Given the expense of pistachios, they certainly aren't a "big batch bake sale" sort of cookie. These rustic biscotti al pistacchio would be perfect served at an Italian themed dinner party with espresso or Vino Santo as a simple dessert though. Off to the recipe: 

1&1/2 C roasted and salted pistachios (shelled) plus extra for garnish
1/2 C ground almonds
1/2 C granulated sugar
3/4 tsp orange or lemon zest
1 large egg white
1&1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla
one drop green food coloring (optional)
For rolling:
1/2 C powdered sugar

Here's what to do:
1) Preheat to oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. In a food processor or mixie pulse the pistachios, ground almonds, granulated sugar, and orange or lemon zest until finely chopped but not fully ground.

2) Transfer nut mixture to a large bowl and combine with the egg white, honey, vanilla, and food coloring until well mixed.

3) Form mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and roll in the powdered sugar to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving about a one and a half inches ance between each cookie. Press a pistachio half into each cookie for garnish.

4) Bake 12-15 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown on the bottoms. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes - cookies will be fragile while still hot but will firm when cooled. Transfer cooled cookies with a spatula to an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks. (Makes about 16 cookies.)

And a Happy St. Patrick's Day to all who celebrate it:

And my commiseration to all those in the United States suffering the "Daylight Savings Time" hour forward1
Any special or green dishes you make for St. Patrick's Day at your house? Do share!
(I miss corned beef and cabbage badly.)
Remember, only eleven more days 'til Spring!
Calmly currying on,


  1. Those biscuits look and sound absolutely gorgeous. I bet I'd eat most of those pistachio nuts before they ended up in the bowl (my weakness!) xxx

  2. Those look absolutely delish! I need to add this to my list of things to try for sure.

  3. Corned beef and cabbage always baffles the Irish people I know - it's an American custom! I don't celebrate any saints' days, though the pubs invariably try to persuade people to drink themselves stupid for St. Patrick's...

  4. The cookies are absolutely delicious to look at, I bet they are nutritious too with all that honey and pistachios. I do like pistachios, unlike other dry fruits they have a fruity taste.

    Meanwhile, India and Pakistan had a 'mini war' of three days which left many scratching their heads, in both the countries. This was a minor distraction before the general election to be held in India, in April. The dreaded election training/duty for us is expected sometime next month. Hope everything goes well.

  5. look pretty, sound yoummy!!
    we are weathering up some very heavy storms by now - last night it was the peak - not funny. i do not remember that much heavy storms until the last 3 years - hello climate change.

  6. Those look beautiful, even if it did destroy your manicure.
    I'll bake treacle farls and possibly make champ(mashed potatoes with kale or spinach) but that's about it. Having spent most of my life living in Chicago and then Boston, it was almost impossible to escape St. Patrick's Day celebrations. In Omaha it is almost a non-event.

  7. Delicious! I love chewy cookies and I love nuts of any sort but I'm too damn lazy to make them...

    Although I'm Irish I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day but here's an Irish dish from my childhood. As Catholics we didn't eat meat on Fridays so this was a popular and cheap dish we often ate. It was called Colcannon and was mashed potatoes with scallions (raw spring onions) chopped up in it; then my mum put a mound of this on our plates, made a well on top; added in a great knob of butter and topped it with a freshly fried egg. Heaven!

    Hope your week is going well...

  8. Cabbage steaks it will be -- the veg, my nod to tradition; and the recipe, my salute to the present, together in a skillet. Shall use genuine Irish butter to keep it authentic!


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