Pistachios are one of my new-ish guilty pleasures. I keep a bag on my desk at the office for snacking, as I find them filling and satisfying – a flavourful little nibble with a hit of salt to perk up my palate. I buy them with the shells still on, as it slows me down and keeps me from downing too many of the things. Plus, I like the ritual. Crack open, pop out the nut, eat, repeat.
While I normally stick to the regular salted kind, I sometimes mix things up with these sweet chili Wonderful-brand pistachios. Gram for gram, they’re a bit more expensive than regular salted pistachios when you consider the extra weight of spice you’re adding to the nuts. But at $5 per bag, it’s still reasonable as long as you don’t eat several bags every week.
The nuts are caked in the spice mix, both inside and out. Some of the nuts have globs of spice stuck to the shells (more useless weight that you’re paying for, grumble grumble), but most is within the nooks and crannies of the pistachio, wedged between the shell and the nut. When you crack a nut open, the spice holds together without turning to powder; some adheres to the nut, while other bits cling to the shell. They’re still just as easy to pop open as any other pistachios, as the spice coating is flaky and fragile, not gummy.
But what do they taste like?
There’s a bit of heat in the seasoning, with some sweet and salty to augment the pistachio taste. There’s yeast extract on the ingredient list, so that’s probably where I’m getting the umami notes from. Something about the combination makes me think “spicy tomato paste,” even though there’s no tomato listed on the package. Because the flavouring is strong and the heat builds with every nut consumed, a handful is probably enough for a sitting. You wouldn’t want to overdo it.
All in all, they’re not bad. The seasoning dominates, so you’d better like the seasoning. If not, stick to the regular salted variety.
Price: $5 for a 200-gram bag at Safeway in Edmonton (on sale).
Value for Money: Not bad. Watch for sales and stock up.
Availability: Widespread in supermarkets, but less common than plain pistachios.
Nutrition: 270 calories per 50 grams (1/2 cup), which is a quarter of the package. But hello! Look at those other stats! On the good side, 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of fibre! On the bad, 23 grams of fat and 500 mg of sodium.
Ambiguity: It’s unclear if the nutritional info for the weight measure is for the entire nut and shell, or only the edible parts. (ie. Are there 270 calories in 50 grams worth of combined nuts and shells? Or are there 270 calories in 50 grams of nut?) The package may weigh 200 grams, but I’d think there’s only 150 grams of edible stuff in there.
Verdict: A nice change when you want a bit more flavour than regular pistachios provide.