Kitchn Love Letters

The One Store-Bought Ingredient That Gets My Whole Family Excited to Eat Salad

published Dec 14, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

The holidays are here, which means I have to exert myself and come up with meal ideas that suck a little less than usual. If you have a creative mind in the kitchen, this likely a simple task (and I envy you). But alas, I am a timid home chef and often stick to what I know, even if that means having a boring or expected meal. (Salad, I am looking at you.) That is, until I discovered my secret cooking weapon in the form of one store-bought ingredient: Honey-Roasted No-Shell Wonderful Pistachios.

Credit: BJ's

Buy: Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Honey Roasted, $19.99 for 22 ounces at BJ’s

I normally keep a bag of these pistachios in my pantry at all times. (The big kind that you get at a wholesale club.) It’s a quick snack that satisfies my sweet tooth and also happen to be a good source of plant-based protein and fiber. Recently, on one adventurous evening, I sprinkled some of these salty/sweet nuts into a salad and was pleasantly surprised. Yes, my wild evenings include sprinkling honey-roasted pistachios on salad — don’t judge, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. This simple addition added a sweet crunch and burst of flavor that my whole family enjoyed. They called it a “fancy salad” and even asked for seconds!

That got the wheels in my brain turning; if adding a sprinkle of these pistachios makes even my 5-year-old daughter excited to eat salad, what will this addition do to other dishes?  

My first experiment involved using crushed pistachios as a crust for baked chicken. After dredging the breasts in flour and beaten egg, I coated them with the sweet-salty chopped nut and baked. The best part? There was no need to add other seasonings because the nuts contained everything I needed.

I quickly learned that adding these little gems to dishes is the easiest way to take food to the next level. In the days since our salad experiment, I’ve coated goat cheese logs with the pistachios, stirred the nuts into rice, sprinkled them over sweet potato casserole, and even used them in homemade chocolate bark.

I snag a 22-ounce bag at BJ’s for $20 and it lasts me a very long time. I highly recommend that you do the same. First order of business? Make a big salad … and prepare to be amazed.

Have you ever given these sweet-and-salty nuts a try?