When I walked into my supermarket the other day there was a huge display of pistachios. Nuts are harvested in the fall, which is probably why they're traditionally associated with the holidays and holiday cooking. Whenever you see a large display of a particular food it's a good indication that it's in season. The minute I saw the bags of plump roasted pistachios the idea for these shortbreads was born. I have a lot of nuts leftover, so I'm planning at least one more pistachio inspired dish...stay tuned.
Pistachio and Sea Salt Shortbread(Set the oven to 325)
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmigiana Reggiano
1 stick plus 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachio nuts
Sea salt for finishing
Chop the pistachio nuts. I used my mini processor to do this because I wanted a variety of texture, and the processor gives me a range from finely ground to large chunks. This will be beautiful in the finished shortbread, and will ensure that you can actually taste the pistachio when you bite into the larger bits. I pulsed and redistributed a few times before I was satisfied.
Put the flour, salt and cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine, and then add the cold butter cubes. Pulse about 10 times, and then run the machine for just a few seconds. Check to see if the dough holds together when you squeeze some between your fingers. It will look like a mass of crumbles at this point. Put the nuts in and pulse once to distribute them.
Turn the dough out onto a surface and form a single mound of dough. Divide that in half and form two logs of dough each about 7 inches long. You may need to work with the dough briefly to get it to come together. Wrap the logs in waxed paper and twist the ends to secure. As you roll them up you can shape and smooth them.
When you're ready to bake, slice the shortbread with a sharp knife into about 1/4 inch slices. Sometimes the end pieces will crumble a bit, if they do just push them back together with your fingers.
I got a little too excited about the wonderful Welsh sea salt I bought...you will use a lighter hand when sprinkling and they'll be perfect. Luckily any excess can just be brushed off.
Most of our pistachios are grown in California, and they've had bumper crops lately. Enjoy!