Plagiarizing the Pistachio out of The Purple Pig’s Lemon Panna Cotta

Panna cotta and lemon marmalade

Providing Bon Appétit Magazine with a recipe for Lemon Panna Cotta with Lemon Marmalade was very nice of Jimmy Bannos, Jr. It may make us seem ungrateful to wish he had included in his published version the sugared pistachios that grace the dessert at The Purple Pig.

We’ve enjoyed multiple meals at The Purple Pig, a seemingly always-packed place nestled at the southern tip of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. We’re usually torn between too many choices—from Turkey Leg Confit with Crispy Lentils to Pig’s Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg. (Crispy things are very, very popular in Gourmandistan.) We are too afraid (and have too little access to pig ears) to try and recreate the pig ear salad. However Michelle, who saw this recipe for her favorite Purple Pig dessert while planning how to dispose of some aging lemons, had no fear she could crank it out. In fact, she resolved to recreate it.

“There are as many variations on this easy, classic dessert as there are fruits” quoth Mr. Bannos. That may be why he not only left off the pistachios, but also added (to our lazy asses, anyhow) the unnecessary step of plating the panna cotta from ramekin molds. We felt that time was better spent sugaring nuts, as their nicely sweetened crunch completes this cool, tart treat. We served it up just like they do in the Windy City, and had plenty of marmalade left to spread around—just like we’re doing with this pistachio recipe.

Panna cotta


  • Servings: makes 1/2 cup nuts
  • Print

  • 1/2 c. raw pistachios
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 TB water
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Sugar

Preheat oven to 300°.

Whisk egg white, water and vanilla in a shallow bowl.  Place sugar in another shallow bowl.  Add nuts to wet ingredients, then remove with a slotted spoon and toss in sugar.

Place sugared nuts on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing midway with a spatula.

After nuts are cool, rub excess sugar off with your fingers.  Sprinkle the nuts and the removed sugar over the panna cotta and lemon marmalade.



  1. Oh my goodness…this looks amazing. I think pistachios make everything better. And what a great use of lemons! Had I seen this a couple of days ago, I would have made some marmalade. Instead I preserved all of them and have a TON of preserved lemons to use up! Great post. Very funny 🙂

  2. Looks amazing. I’m sure it tastes amazing and I’m very intrigued by the Pig’s ear salad too. Pistachios are such a favourite, I love how nuts lend themselves to a variety of sweet & savoury dishes. Your candied ones are perfection!

  3. The panna cotta sounds delicious. I suspect the pigs ear salad could be recreated with pork crackling. I’ve only cooked them on a head or whole suckling pig before, but they do become crunchy like the rest of the body. There’s a good recipe for pig’s ear salad in Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson 😉

  4. I’m back again! Just to tell you that your snow white Panna cotta took my breath away 🙂 And the way you treated Pistachio is so incredibly divine!
    Outstanding photos 🙂

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