For much of my childhood, I believed in a world where red pistachios grew plump and fell from tall red-trunked trees. You can understand my disappointment when one day after downing a bag of red pistachios with my family, I learned that, like my imagination, red pistachios were fabricated.
Those glorious little nuts that left my fingertips and lips a ruby red are, in fact, beige. How dreadfully boring. Apparently that’s what the marketers of red-dyed pistachios thought, too. Beyond their naturally earthy hue, pistachios from those days of yore were often harvested by hand and suffered from imperfections, and who in the hell wanted a beige nut with obvious imperfections? Selling dyed pistachios was like peddling sparkly costume jewelry: distraction central.
Two major shifts have happened since my red pistachio-eating days:
1. The natural food movement has become mainstream, which means it’s not only healthier to eat foods closer to their natural state; it’s also a way to increase your “cool” social capital.
2. American-grown pistachios are mostly machine-harvested, reducing the amount of time growers and processors come in contact with the nut, which increases harvest yields and eliminates potential manhandled imperfections from making it to your pistachio bag.
Below you’ll find a lightly sweetened muffin recipe packed with pistachio goodness. (Pistachios are a fine source for your daily protein, fiber, and vitamin needs.) Because these muffins are made with honey and olive oil, you can also feel a little less guilty about making your way through a few at a time.
Honey Pistachio Muffins (adapted from The Sweet Life)
Make 12 muffins
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup honey (use the good stuff, it’s worth it!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pistachios, finely ground*
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
*Note: If possible, use a food processor to grind the pistachios until they are the texture/size of coffee grounds.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk oil and honey until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground pistachios.
3. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the oil/honey/egg mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk (so you should add some flour mixture, mix, half the buttermilk, mix, flour mixture, mix, the rest of the buttermilk, mix, the rest of the flour mixture). Stir until just combined; do not overmix!
4. Divide the batter equally among the muffin tin, filling each liner about 2/3 of the way. Sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios onto the tops of the muffin batter.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.