Pistachio di Bronte: an Etnean excellence at the table

Along the slopes of Etna, and in particular in the territory that embraces the municipalities of Bronte, Adrano and Biancavilla, a small fruit with a flavor and color known all over the world is born: it is the Bronte pistachio .
Excellence of the province of Catania, it is in fact a DOP variety , as well as being a Slow Food Presidium .

Coming to us from a completely different place, pistachio has found lava among its chosen lands, acquiring here characteristics that make it unique in the world.

Every year the Bronte Pistachio Festival is held , where you can taste the most extraordinary preparations made from this ingredient. It takes place in the first days of autumn, immediately after the harvest period (which runs from August to September).

But where can you enjoy them for the rest of the year?

Uses of pistachio: the precious grain that completes your dessert

The long journey of the pistachio in history

The pistachio was already well known centuries BC among various populations of the Mediterranean basin (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks) for its properties: curative , aphrodisiac and even used as an antidote against the bites of poisonous animals . It is said that the queen of Sheba was fond of it, boasting among her riches also a pistachio plantation.

According to Pliny the Elder, it was introduced to the Italian peninsula and Spain around 20-30 AD, following the military campaigns of Lucio Vitellio. Not everywhere, however, was it possible to start production due to the unfavorable climate: the plant went wild and was exploited more for wood than for fruit.

It is necessary to wait for the arrival of the Arabs in Sicily for the island to become the protagonist of this production with its all-Etna excellence, identifying in the slopes of the volcano an excellent habitat for this plant and grafting the “domestic” variety on the wild.

For the Arabs the pistachio was fristach and its tree frastuch . If the word “pistachio” derives from the Greek pistàkion , where can we find the memory of the Arabic denomination? In the Sicilian dialect , where plant and fruit are called, respectively, frastuca and frastucara . Furthermore, in the ancient Bronte dialect, frastucata was a pistachio-based dessert and a shade of green was indicated with frastuchino .

The Bronte pistachio

The Bronte pistachio: history and peculiarities of the Etna pistachio

Why is our Bronte pistachio so precious? As just mentioned, the history of the Bronte pistachio begins with the Arabs. It was they who made production systematic and identified the best soil and exposure for cultivation on the western slopes of Etna. It is precisely the lava soil, rich in mineral substances continuously renewed by volcanic ashes, that gives the fruit the characteristics that distinguish it not only from the rest of the world, but also from the island’s production: the intense flavor , the bright green color . Consider that the Bronte pistachio represents only 1% of world production (most of it comes from California, Iran and Turkey): a tiny percentage that makes it super elitist. It should also be said that the plant goes into production every two years , alternating harvesting with “green pruning”, a pruning system probably inherited from Arab farmers; Furthermore, given the peculiarity of the lava soil (rocky and steep), the harvest cannot be mechanized and takes place, after centuries, still by hand. Each plant manages to produce an average of 5-15 kilograms of ready-to-use fruit: every single pistachio is, therefore, extremely precious.

Uses of pistachio in cooking

In addition to its nutritional properties and its goodness when consumed “raw”, pistachio owes its popularity also to its extreme versatility, which sees it used both in cooking and in pastry . On the market you can also find it in the form of flour or grains, and the advice is to prefer it unsalted so as to be able to use it in multiple occurrences, even in sweet recipes. Ideal topping for ice creams, cakes, as well as for pastas, pizzas or salads, where a sprinkling of sautéed or toasted pistachio grains will be that crunchy and tasty touch that will leave your guests pleasantly surprised.

Our desserts: the warm heart of Bronte pistachio with chocolate ice cream

Much appreciated is the pistachio pesto , which you can easily prepare at home or find ready to use. Beware of imitations: the real Bronte pistachio pesto is only one!

Like the one we use at the Sale restaurant pizzeria to prepare our gnocchi, with their unmistakable dark green color.

We always try to amaze those who come to visit us: both those who already know the local cuisine and the newcomer to the city, in the first case to amaze them with new uses and combinations, in the second to make known our flavors and our imagination. This is why, speaking of gnocchi, we serve them accompanied by ricotta ice cream, creating a strong cold-hot, salty-sweet contrast.

You can also find the pistachio used in our tuna fillet, where it is a delicious breading, as well as in the pizzas and desserts of our pastry shop.

Did we manage to make you crave pistachio? Come visit!
You can find us among the restaurants in Catania center, in via Santa Filomena 10 .