Chef Daniel Boulud

Recipe Corner: Harissa-Spiced Lamb with Glazed Eggplant and Pistachio Raita by Chef Daniel Boulud


Photo and recipes courtesy of American Pistachio Growers

FRESNO — American Pistachio Growers (APG) is a non-profit trade association representing over 800 grower members in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. These states represent 100 percent of the domestic commercial pistachio production. Headquartered in Fresno, APG is governed by a democratically elected board of directors who are growers, and is funded entirely by growers and independent processors with the shared goal of increasing global awareness of nutritious, American-grown pistachios.

“Pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, originating in the ancient Middle East (including what is now Iran, Afghanistan, and Syria), Central Asia, and Western Asia. Archeologists found evidence of pistachios in a dig site at Jerome, near northeastern Iraq, from as early as 6750 BC. The hanging gardens of Babylon were said to have contained pistachio trees during the reign of King Merodach-Baladan about 700 BC. In Persia (modern day Iran), pistachio trade and ownership of pistachio groves meant riches and high status. Legend has it that pistachios were a favorite of the Queen of Sheba, who demanded all her land’s production for herself and her court. Through the conquests of Alexander the Great (334-323 BC), the nut reached Greece. Later, under the rule of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (First Century AD), the nut was also introduced into Italy and Spain,” says APG.

“The cultivation area of the pistachio expanded further with the spread of Islam and the resulting Arab expansion. Alongside the Crusades, the Levant trade in the Middle Ages was also widespread. The Venetian Republic, in particular, had close trade ties with Syria, one of the main cultivation areas for the pistachio. The goods reached northern and central Italy via the sea trade routes. During the 1880s, imported pistachios were popular in the United States, especially with Middle Eastern immigrants. The pistachio received further distribution through vending machines installed in underground train stations, bars, restaurants and other common locations. ‘A dozen for a nickel’ soon developed into a familiar slogan. Today the biggest producers of pistachios are Iran, the United States, China, Turkey, and Syria.”

Pistachio nuts have been used in cooking for over 2500 years. While in the ancient East they were seen as a symbol of wealth and success, today everything they are put in is considered top-notch. Pistachios are eaten fresh or roasted and are commonly incorporated into items such as granola, soups, salads, pesto, breads, pasta, cakes, cookies, puddings, ice cream, gelato, cheese, and a variety of other foods. In addition, pistachios have been used to add yellowish green coloring to confections. They are one of the lowest-calorie nuts, and are a great alternative for a healthy snack compared to calorie-dense nuts like almonds. These nuts are integral to dishes across different cultures. They often form a part of many beliefs and traditions, and become a part of meals from a simple everyday fare to lavish weddings and common funeral rituals.

Shelled, unsalted pistachios are preferred for cooking, particularly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. The Armenian version of the wheat berry pudding ashure is called anoushabour. Since Armenians serve this pudding during Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, it is often called “Armenian Christmas Pudding.” The pudding may be accompanied by nuts such as almonds and pistachios. Pistachios are a favorite ingredient in baklava (paklava), m’aamoul cookies, pistachio halva, and other dishes such as sauces, pâtés, and stuffings.

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Persian ice cream (or Bastani in Farsi) is a creamy ice cream that includes pistachio nuts, saffron, rose water and flakes of frozen clotted cream. In Iran, pistachios are a common ingredient mixed in chicken and rice dishes, and also served as a traditional Persian snack, roasted with lemon juice and saffron and tossed with sea salt.

Turkish delight or lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are often flavored with rosewater, mastic gum, bergamot orange, or lemon.

Kanafeh is a Middle Eastern pastry made of kadaïf (more commonly called angel hair), akawi cheese and samneh or ghee (clarified butter). Once baked, the kanafeh is drizzled with a rose water scented syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachios or walnuts. Aish El Saraya is a delicious Middle Eastern dessert that is composed of sweetened bread, and topped with ashta cream. And for the final touch, this ashta dessert is generally decorated with chopped pistachios, adding a wonderful textural contrast between the different layers.

Pistachios are a common addition to Italian pastas, either chopped and mixed in to the noodles or ground and made into a spiced pistachio sauce. Egyptians serve a cake named maskina made from flour, powdered sugar, cream, oil and pistachios or instead a variety of dried fruits.

Barazek or barazeq is a Syrian-Palestinian cookie whose main ingredient is sesame and often also contain pieces of pistachio. Halva is one of the most famous Middle Eastern desserts. And although it differs from one region to another, the most common variation is this sweet, crumbly mixture made with tahini (sesame seed paste), sugar, and pistachios.

The Germans and Italians use the oil in curing pork sausage. Indian food makes ample use of pistachios, and they are a staple ingredient in Indian rice puddings, pilafs, cookies, and a spiced pistachio fudge called pista barfi. Pistachios are put in various foods offered at social events. For example, in Stockholm, Nobel prize laureates are treated with a special ice cream garnished with pistachios.


Chef Daniel Boulud

Originally from Lyon, France, Chef  Daniel Boulud is widely celebrated as one of America’s leading culinary authorities. Since arriving in New York City in 1982, he has continually evolved his cuisine and expanded his reach to properties across the United States, as well as Toronto, Montreal, Dubai, Singapore, and The Bahamas. His culinary empire has brought him many accolades, yet his inspiration remains grounded in the rhythm of the seasons. From his flagship, DANIEL, to his properties across the globe, Chef Boulud’s signature remains the contemporary appeal he brings to soulful dishes rooted in the French tradition.

Watch the video and cook along with Chef Boulud as he creates this recipe, Harissa-Spiced Lamb with Glazed Eggplant and Pistachios Raita. For dessert, he makes Pistachio Crusted Pain Perdue Blackberry Chantilly. See:



8 lamb chops

11⁄2 tablespoons Harissa spice mix

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1⁄2 cup grapeseed oil, as needed

1 cup pistachios, crushed



1 red bell pepper

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1⁄2 red onion, sliced

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

4 Piquillo peppers (canned)

1⁄4 cup sourdough croutons

1⁄2 cup pistachios, crushed

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Smoked Spanish paprika

Salt and pepper



2 Japanese eggplants

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Olive oil, as needed

Salt and pepper



1 cup thick Greek yogurt

1⁄2 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated

2 cloves garlic, peeled, germ removed and finely grated 1⁄2 lemon, zested

2 tablespoons mint, chopped

2 tablespoons pistachios, crushed

Salt and pepper, as needed



Combine the Harissa spice mix and herbs with the grapeseed oil and blend using a hand blender until it forms a paste. Pour over the lamb and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Slice the eggplant into 1-inch slices.

Crush the pistachios using a pot until they are finely chopped. Reserve.

Over an open flame, blacken the skin of the red bell pepper. Transfer the pepper to a bowl and cover it with plastic, steam at room temperature for 10 minutes. Peel the black skin from the red pepper and trim away the seeds.

Thinly slice the red onion, Piquillo peppers, 2 cloves of garlic and combine in a bowl. Roughly dice the tomatoes and combine in the same bowl.


Peel, seed and grate the cucumber. Toss it with 1 teaspoon of salt and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes to extract the liquid. Squeeze dry the grated cucumber and transfer to a small bowl.

Mix the Pistachio Raita, then combine all ingredients in the bowl with the grated cucumber, season with salt, lemon zest and pepper to taste. Mix in the crushed pistachios and chopped mint.



For the Pistachio Romesco: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, and Piquillo peppers. Sauté until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated; about 4 minutes. Transfer peppers and cooked vegetables to a blender with the croutons, pistachios, and vinegar. Blend until smooth and while running, pour in the remaining olive oil until emulsified. Season, to taste, with paprika, salt and pepper.

For the Glazed Eggplant: Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add eggplant in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches) and sear until golden brown on both sides. Reduce heat to medium and deglaze using the sherry vinegar and honey. Bring to a simmer until reduced to a glaze.

For the Lamb Chops: When ready to serve, preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Season the marinated lamb with salt and pepper and then grill the lamb until it is cooked to your desired temperature (about 5 minutes for medium rare). Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes. Brush some Romesco Sauce on each side of each chop and dip them in the reserved crushed pistachios to coat them.


Spoon some Romesco sauce onto each plate and drag a spoon across it to make a well. Place 4 slices of glazed eggplant over the sauce and sprinkle some toasted pistachios on top. Divide the lamb chops between the plates and serve the Pistachio Raita on the side.


Cooking with the Pros

Join chef-instructors from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in this online exploration of pistachios’ potential. Assisted by acclaimed French pastry chef Jean–Yves Charon, the chefs will demonstrate how to prepare cakes, confections, macarons, gelato, and even an unusual guacamole with pistachios. The accompanying text, videos, and chef-tested recipes will give you the resources to dive more deeply on your own. To boost the craveability of your pastries and confections, reach for pistachios. Among nuts, they’re the style leader, the one that makes any creation more fashion forward. Pistachio is the flavor of the moment—in gelato, in biscotti, and in the biggest pastry trend from Paris: the macaron. Around the country, patrons at wine bars and craft-brew taprooms are enjoying pistachios roasted with contemporary seasonings like smoked salt and pimentón. Today America leads the world in pistachio production—both in quantity and quality. With California-grown pistachios so prevalent, you can give imported nuts a pass. With convenient formats like shelled kernels, you can easily experiment with making pistachio paste and pistachio flour. For Cooking with the Pros, go to:

American Pistachio Growers are nuts about snacking — follow us for tips, tricks, and ideas for healthier ways to make the Love Nut your everyday, go-to snack. Research suggests that pistachios have numerous benefits and may help to maintain good health, support an active lifestyle and reduce the risk of nutrition-related diseases. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes that tree nuts, including pistachios, can be part of a heart healthy diet: scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease. For nutritional information, go to:


American Pistachio Growers (APG)

9 River Park Pl E, Ste 410

Fresno, CA 93720

Phone: (559) 475-0435

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