One of my favorite dishes to make this time of year is one that I actually discovered on a flight to Washington D.C. Last year I was headed to visit my sister and I grabbed a copy of Food & Wine to take with me on the plane. The Green Tomatoes with Pistachio Relish recipe caught my eye for a few reasons. First, the green zebra variety of tomatoes is one of my favorites. Secondly, I really love pistachios. However, I was a little wary in the beginning simply because I thought the combination sounded odd.
My sister asked if I would cook for her and her roommates and trying this recipe produced some very happy guinea pigs. Everyone loved it and it has become a family favorite. Over the last year, I’ve re-worked the ingredients a bit. Out of necessity I once used rice wine vinegar and liked that even better. Also, the original recipe calls for pink peppercorns, which I recommend that everyone try, but it’s still delicious with black pepper, which is more readily available, so that’s what I call for here.
The pistachios will eventually get a little “soggy” – especially the longer they soak in the vinegar. If you want to delay that effect, you can roast the pistachio meats for a about 10 minutes in a 400 F oven. Just be careful that the nuts don’t burn. The pistachios should be rough chopped, leaving relatively large chunks. Also, many co-ops and gourmet grocery stores will carry shelled pistachios which are much easier for this type of recipe.
The beauty of this salad is that it’s great with really good tomatoes, but it can also be used to rescue less flavorful tomatoes. Given the choice, I usually use a mix of green zebras and maybe German pink tomatoes. I think it’s prettier if you can use at least two different colors. This works as a quick and easy appetizer for a dinner party or a light summer meal with good wine and bread.
Tomato Salad with Pistachios
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup capers, drained
- 3 tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1-2 tbs olive oil
- pinch sugar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4-5 small tomatoes (preferably heirloom)
- Combine everything, except the tomatoes and basil, and refrigerate the relish for at least an hour to let the flavors meld or up to a couple of days.
- Slice the tomatoes thinly and layout in a single layer on a platter. Spoon the relish over the tomatoes and then scatter the basil over the top. I leave the small leaves whole and tear the larger ones into a few pieces. I like about one penny-sized piece of basil per slice of tomato.