That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

An Italian PB&J: Pistachio Butter and Dried Cherries

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[Photographs: Lee Zalben]

If an Italian was going to make a PB&J sandwich, what kind of peanut butter would they choose?

a) Smooth
b) Crunchy
c) Honey Roasted

The answer is d) None of the Above. Because Italians don't really eat peanut butter. The most popular spread for bread in Italy is Nutella. But if you take chocolate out of the equation, there's another nutty spread that just might make a convert out of even the most traditional Roman.

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I was grazing through Eataly, the bustling Italian market hall in Manhattan, recently and between the gelato, imported dried pasta, espresso, fresh fish, and pizzas, I came across several rows of these cute little jars of Crema Pistacchi, or what you or I would simply call pistachio butter.

Made with roasted pistachios and sugar by Babbi, a company based in Bertinoro near the east coast of Italy, a little south of Bologna and Ravenna. If the name sounds familiar, it's because they're quite well known for their gelato mixes and toppings.

The spread is soft (some would say runny) and sweet (I wouldn't have minded a little salt). Jam was too overpowering for this sweet spread, but some tart dried cherries or ciliegie were just perfect.

A PB&J for purists? No. But a PB&J-inspired snack fit for a Roman? Si!

If you can't make it to Eataly to pick up a jar, try this great recipe for pistachio butter at home.

About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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