Turkeys, Traditions and a Pistachio Tart

Pistachio and Almond Tart with Orange and Cardamom

I love Thanksgiving. I love coming in from the crisp November air to a warm, bustling kitchen. I love the smell of dozens of dishes in final stages of preparation, savory intermingling with sweet. I love the coming together of generations around the table, the threads of conversation picked up from last year as if they were never interrupted. I love that there is no anxiety over present-buying, no over-the-top commercialism, no religious overtones one either feels obligated to respect or rebel against. I love the way that people are given two whole days of public holiday to eat. I also love the thought that I can predict what nearly everyone in America regardless of time zone is doing at any given moment on Thanksgiving Day – they are either preparing food, eating food, or sated and stuffed from the overabundance that gives this feast its character. I love the sheer indulgence of it all.

But I also love breaking tradition on Thanksgiving. While others revel in the continuity and comfort of perennial favorites, I’m always looking for the next culinary thrill. Some people think I have a pathological fear of gastronomic commitment, but I think it’s better described as an insatiable lust for adventure. I believe that if I’m going to spend all day (or two or three) in the kitchen, I might as well tackle some items on my ‘must cook’ list, which each year seems to stretch longer than the last. And let’s face it, even if I were one for repeat-cooking, turkey, potatoes and cranberry relish can get kind of old. As a result, in my house just about anything goes for Thanksgiving, as long as it’s delicious, as long as there’s a lot, and as long as there are people around to share it. I’ve done full-on ethnic themed dinners, and hodge-podges of everything that looks good in a new cookbook or two. There have been Thanksgiving tamales, Thanksgiving curries, Thanksgiving pizzas and Thanksgiving tapas.

This year, we’re a little short on company, a little short on food, and a little short on time to celebrate. But luckily we’re not short on pistachio tart. Nutty, citrusy, subtly spiced and sporting a lustrous emerald hue, it’s the kind of confidently spectacular dessert that would be equally at home quietly biding its time on the buffet table with the more traditional post-feast sweets as it is shining in the spotlight. It’s decadent, exotic, and downright delicious. In fact, it’s almost good enough to merit a tradition of its own.

So whether your table encompasses turkeys or tagines, apple pie or tarte tatin, have a wonderful, belly-stretching holiday. And if, like me, you live in a part of the world that hasn’t woken up to the charms of giving thanks, rest assured that a little pistachio tart certainly can’t go amiss on any chilly Thursday in November.


Pistachio and Almond Tart with Orange and Cardamom

Source: adapted from Casa Moro, by Sam and Sam Clark
Note: Since shelling your own pistachios is a real pain (literally!), try to find them pre-shelled – Indian, Turkish, Persian and Middle Eastern shops (or shops that sell things imported from these countries) are good places to look. To blanch pistachios (and almonds, for that matter), drop them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain. The skins should peel off easily. If they start to dry before you get through the batch, cover them with cold water until you finish the blanching. This does take quite a bit of time; you can use unblanched pistachios but the color will not be quite as vibrant.

for Crust:
225g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g caster/superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
250g butter
1 egg yolk

for Filling:
200g blanched almonds
300g shelled, blanched pistachios
250g caster/superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
150ml orange juice
4 egg yolks
finely grated zest of one medium orange
pinch salt

for Glaze:
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cream

for Topping (optional):
1 pint heavy cream, softly whipped
1 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
mild honey, to tasteΒ 

For the crust, combine the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter, and pulse until only small lumps of butter remain. Add the egg yolk and process for 20 seconds more, then turn out into a bowl and bring together by hand. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Roll out on a floured work surface to a large circle, and fit it into a 10 or 11-inch tart pan, trimming the top to an even height. Prick the crust well with a fork and place in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Spread the blanched almonds and pistachios on a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Set aside. Take the frozen crust out of the freezer and line with baking parchment or foil, line with beans or pie weights, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment, and continue to bake until the pastry is an even, light gold color, about 10 minutes more.

For the filling, process the nuts, sugar, and cardamom in a food processor until ground very fine. When ready, the nuts will have begun to release their oil and cake together. Slowly add the orange juice to make a very thick, smooth paste. Finally, add the egg yolks, orange zest and salt, and process until incorporated.

Spread the filling into the shell and smooth with a wet spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes to dry the surface, then brush on the glaze (made by mixing the egg yolk and cream). Continue to bake for a further 10 minutes, or until golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of the cream, into which you have stirred the rose water, cardamom and honey.


14 thoughts on “Turkeys, Traditions and a Pistachio Tart

  1. Hi Melissa,Thanks for sharing this "new" tradition with us. I love pistachios so this is right up my alley. Your photo makes me want to rush to the kitchen to make this NOW, but sadly, I have no more pistachios in the freezer. *sigh*

  2. oh Melissa, you are such a devoted culinary experimenter what with shelling all those pistachios! Im so impressed. The tart looks fantastic. I absolutely love the colours. And the ingredients for the cream sound heavenly, I might just make a batch of that and put it on everything!

  3. Melissa, this picture is again amazing – really inviting! Have the book at home, will add a note saying "Recommended by Melissa" next to it..

  4. Melissa,My family, too, has thrown aside the specific culinary traditions of Thanksgiving because we got bored with eating the same thing year after year. We are eating turkey this year, but only because someone voluteered to fry one for us and we’ve been wanting to try fried turkey.

  5. Mellisa, this is the most beautiful pistachio tart I’ve ever seen! (and I didn’t even realise it was from Moro book, argh!) It must be really hard work shelling 300 grams of pistachios, I wouldn’t do it πŸ™‚ I’m going to get loads of pistachio paste next time I go to Paris, let me know if you would like some.

  6. Melissa, I’m always fascinated of your gorgeous pics and recipes (since my sister intreduce your site about 6 ago). Next I will try your Cardamom and Honey Stewed Apricots. My origin is turkish. I find it amazing that "Turkeys" followed the turkish delights;) That’s why I’m writing else I’m a silent guest of your blog:)

  7. Hi Melissa,I spent the whole day preparing different tarts for Thanksgiving (ahem yes, we Germans are a little wacky, we celebrate Thanksgiving today, Friday, since not everybody was available yesterday πŸ˜‰ But then again, as half of the bunch is American and they initiated the re-scheduling, we are totally fine with it. So in less than 2 hours we will be having our feast… I’m sure you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, culinary-wise I don’t have a doubt after seeing this gorgeous tart!!! If you promise to bring some of it, we would loooove to welcome you tonight… πŸ˜‰ But I doubt there is any left…

  8. What a delicious looking tart. I love pistachios and just discovered cardamoms from Michele. Yum! Happy Thanksgiving!Paz

  9. hi melissa, happy thanksgiving! that casa moro tart has been haunting my dreams ever since i bought the book – unlike you, i never mustered the courage to shell and skin such a seemingly vast quantity of pistachios…but as evidenced by your exquisite tart, it’s time to get cracking πŸ˜‰

  10. Hi Reid – I’m there with you in the pistachio-fanatics camp. They’re so good! I hope I’ve inspired you enough to re-stock your freezer. :)Hi Michele – Mais non, I didn’t shell all those pistachios! I’m far too lazy for that, and luckily they’re not too hard to find pre-shelled around here. But I’m glad you like the pistachio post you were awaiting for so long, and yes, I can tell you from experience that the cream goes well with everything from a pistachio tart to a naked spoon… Hi Ilva – This should be right up his alley then, and I sure hope he likes it!Hi Pille – This is the first recipe I’ve made from the book (despite having it for quite a while now), and yes, it definitely has my stamp of approval! Hi Kevin – I attended a Thanksgiving in Mississippi one year during college at which a fried turkey was served – unfortunately I was a vegetarian then and didn’t try any. To say I regret that now is an understatement!Hi Keiko – Yes, this tart would be a snap to whip up with some pistachio paste. While I was making this I convinced myself that it was a labor of love, but I think eliminating the labor part certainly wouldn’t detract from the taste… ;)Hi Dilek – Thanks for commenting! I hadn’t even noticed that turkey followed Turkey, it must have been my subconscious poet at work… I hope you like the apricots!Hi Nicky – I think it’s perfectly forgivable that you celebrated a day late, considering the circumstances πŸ˜‰ After reading your writeup, I wish I had been able to accept your invitation – it looks so fabulous, I would have even been willing to whip another pistachio tart to contribute!Hi Paz – They go together well, trust me! And Happy Thanksgiving to you too!Hi J – Me too, it was the one recipe that really jumped out at me the first time I looked through the book. And yes, it’s a bit of work, but a little blood, sweat and tears always makes things taste better in my opinion! Hi Fanny – Thank you! And I’ll be happy to participate in the meme, I just need to think about which of my many idiosyncracies are safe to share with the world at large…Hi Melissa – Thank you! And happy holidays to you too! I guess in Panama you’re not exactly looking forward to a white Christmas, are you? πŸ˜‰

  11. I tasted a delicious and very sweet ‘almond and pistachio tart’ on Melbourne Cup day in Sydney recently and am very keen to find the recipe. Yours sounds the closest as the one I tried did have cardamon (or cloves?) and a hint of citrus (lemon?). The one I tried only seemed to be sprinkled with the pistachios.Does anyone think it would work if I use all almonds for the filling and use lemon instead of orange? Also the tart had little crunchy bits on the topping, would that be granulated sugar or toffee bits do you think?Any suggestions from good cooks gratefully received.Caro

Comments are closed.