Let me start out by saying, I love pistachios. You all have probably already figured this out. Their slight sweetness goes with almost anything.
They show up pretty regularly here, either as a major component of a meal (see my French Toast with Baked Oranges or Fessenjan with Jewelled Cauliflower Rice) or as a garnish pretty well anywhere I can get away with it! Their colour is the prettiest bright green. And even with the shell on, they make for a perfect little snack. A wonderful nut.
On one of our recent trips to Vancouver to visit my family, I discovered a fantastic dried fruit and nut shop, run by a Persian couple. It is the most charming shop with elaborate chandeliers, and with exotic urns filled with all sorts of goodies and scoops so that you can help yourself. One is filled with peeled and chopped pistachios- I went all dreamy eyed when I saw this!! Now no visit to Vancouver is complete without visiting Ayoub’s on Denman Street! And before you head out the door, grab some amazing Turkish Delight for the road.
Pistachios always evoke the exotic Middle Eastern cuisines for me. There is something so romantic about these dishes. Lately I’ve been cooking out of Persiana, by Sabrina Ghayour. Every page has held my attention and each recipe just begs to be made. I can’t say it any better than the review by Saveur magazine: “Enchanting”.
So this dip is from her book. According to her, she first discovered it in Istanbul, in a butcher shop/restaurant. She loved it, but they wouldn’t share the recipe (!) so she had to figure out how to make it on her own. I’ve been there, trying to dissect a dish to identify all the components. Well, she was happy with her results. Since I have nothing to compare it to, I’m happy with her results as well!!
It’s a happy combination of nuts, fresh feta and handfuls of herbs, a bit of heat with a chili pepper and yogurt and lemon to balance it all out. It’s a perfect dip with focaccia, flat bread, crackers, or even other veggies. I’ve also used it as a spread on sandwiches and eggs. It is slightly addictive!!
I will say, I did adjust the flavours just a touch. I found that the final result was a tad too salty for my family. So I cut back on the feta the second time around, and increased the yogurt. Loved it!!
Enjoy this versatile dip, its a great alternative to our go-to hummus. Much brighter and lighter. Not that I don’t adore hummus (thank you Yotam Ottolenghi!)
Pistachio and Feta Dip
A fresh, flavour jammed dip that jumps between the saltiness of the cheese, the richness of the nuts, and the tang of the yogurt. Lemon and hot pepper add kick. Great with focaccia or flat breads
- 3 1/2 oz (100 g) shelled pistachios
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 7 oz (approx 200 g) feta cheese
- 1 handful of dill roughly chopped
- 2 handfulls of cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
- 1 long red chilli pepper, medium heat seeded and chopped
- 4-5 tbsp greek yogurt
- zest of one medium lemon and juice of 1/2 of it
- kosher salt if needed
Blitz the pistachios and olive oil in a food processor for 30 seconds.
Add the feta, herbs, garlic, chilli pepper, yogurt and lemon.
Blitz until the mixture is well combined and has a rustic texture.
Taste to see if you want more salt. This will depend on the type of feta you are using, and your own tastes.
Serve with warmed focaccia or flat bread, or even crudités.
I adjusted this recipe based on our salt tolerances. So you may need to use less yogurt and more feta if your feta is mild. I definitely did not go near adding any extra salt.
Adapted from Persiana, Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond, by Sabrina Ghayour.