If pesto and aïoli were to have a baby...
...it would probably be Aillade. Aillade is a raw combination of nuts and herbs and heaps of pungent 'ail' or garlic, in French.
This little recipe is about as simple as it gets and about as versatile a recipe you can have in the kitchen...and it is slightly more-ish and addictive.
I stumbled across this version using pistachios which are a staple in my kitchen and in Middle Eastern cookery, in particular in sweets and in desserts. These baby pink and soft green gem-like nuts were traditionally grown in Iran but have now spread towards the Mediterranean.
"Lucratively traded along the Silk Road, legend has it these little nuts were once decreed by the Queen of Sheba to be an exclusively royal food, and commoners in southern Arabia were forbidden from growing them."
Pistachios are loved for their flavour but also for their health benefits..they are packed with healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Notably though they are really high in Vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 is important for several bodily functions, including blood sugar regulation and the formation of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying molecule in red blood cells.
Pistachios are also rich in the mineral electrolyte potassium. One ounce, or approx. 24 grams has 291mg, much more than just half a banana.
But for me it is the value of their anti-oxidant properties that I find most appealing. Two weeks ago I started a new online course with live lectures streamed in the evening on a Zoom call. I am finding that my sleep-wake cycle is being disrupted but also I feel more head and eye strain and a 'heavier' tiredness.
We all know that anti-oxidants are essential for our overall health in mopping up damage caused to cells by the oxidative actions of Free Radicals. We are mostly familiar with the vitamins as anti-oxidants, in particular Vitamins C and E. But other compounds such as lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high amounts in pistachios, and both of which are essential for eye health.
These compounds protect our eyes from damage caused by the blue light emitted from screens and from age-related macular degeneration, a condition in which our central vision is impaired or lost.
Another fabulous compound found in pistachios is melatonin, the hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle and also a master anti-oxidant.
Pistachios are not just the most melatonin-rich nut, they are, according to Dr. Michael Greger MD
" simply off-the-charts as the most melatonin-rich food ever recorded. To get a physiological dose of melatonin, all you have to eat is two. "
I found a David Lebovitz recipe and gave it my own tweaks.
110g Shelled, unsalted, raw pistachios
3-4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
Handful fresh curly parsley
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Good squeeze of lemon juice
Filtered water, to thin
Preheat the oven to 180.
Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and heat through for about 3 minutes. Do not burn and leave to cool.
You can be very 'cheffy' and authentic and use a mortar and pestle, but I used my new kitchen gadget, my mini Kitchen Aid processor. Add in the nuts, garlic, parsley, salt, lemon juice and start to blend. Add in the oil slowly until you get a nice thick consistency, if you would like it more runny add some water.
I have served it here, very simply with some grilled chicken, courgettes and tomatoes. But it would be amazing stirred through some pasta, atop a warming bowl of soup or layered on some toasted sourdough. Enjoy!
Bulló, M., Juanola-Falgarona, M., Hernández-Alonso, P., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2015). Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts. The British Journal of Nutrition, 113 Suppl 2, S79–S93. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114514003250
Meng, W. et. al., (2017) Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Nutrients.