Here as promised is my super easy recipe for Pistou that I showed you in my winter vegetable soup post on Wednesday.
Pistou looks just like Pesto doesn’t it? Beautifully green and packed with natural goodness, a Mediterranean treat if ever there was one. Those lucky folks who live in these sunshine lands know a thing or two about flavour and making best use of the produce around them, real food is still real life to most of them.
Each area has it’s own sauces and preserves, and not just countries, but counties, towns and villages all have their own variations on what are their national creations. While there are as many versions of Pesto in Italy with individual villages staking their claim to the perfect blend of garlicy goodness, the French have their Pistou hailing from Provence where voices will raise to exclaim over the virtues of one recipe over another.
While Pesto normally boasts some sort of grated hard cheese in it’s make-up (but not always) and pine nuts or some other variety of nutty goodness, the French Pistou (which comes from the local dialect in Provencal – pista, meaning to grind) contains only four ingredients;
Extra virgin olive oil
For the very best and most traditional of Pistous one should grind the salt and garlic in mortar with a good heavy pestle to break it down and form a paste. The tender basil leaves should then be added a few at a time. Their precious cargo of essential oils packed with flavour being blended slowly into the heady garlic and salt mixture.
Then the oil should be dripped into the mortar a little at a time. The cook using patience as she stirs and mixes all the ingredients together, the scent filling the kitchen with the promise of delightful tastes to come. She will stop this process only when she feels that the sauce can hold no more oil.
Of course you can simply whizz up the garlic, salt and basil leaves in your food processor to form a paste and then drizzle in the olive oil and check your seasoning when you feel the sauce is complete.
However you choose to make your Pistou you will be thrilled with the results. This fresh yet hearty sauce will enliven the dullest of dishes, making plain pasta sing and turning a simple chunk of crusty bread into a lunch time treat.
I love to spoon my Pistou generously into vegetable soup as is customary in Provence. I did this the other day with my winter vegetable soup and felt it brought me just a wee glimmer of French sunshine in my wet and windy Scottish winter’s day.
However you choose to serve your Pestou I’m sure you will find that it soon becomes a firm favourite and something you add to your store cupboard repertoire.
Keep your Pistou in a covered jar in the fridge and use within a couple of days. When basil is abundant in summer make lots of this sensational sauce and store it in your freezer for up to six months and enjoy summer sunshine all year round.
Have a great weekend everyone.
- 4 garlic cloves
- sea salt to taste
- 2 good handfulls of fresh basil leaves
- 125ml/4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
- Peel and chop the garlic cloves
- grind the garlic with the salt either in mortar and pestle or food processor
- add the basil leaves till completely combined
- drizzle in the olive oil till the sauce cannot take any more
- check the seasoning and adjust to taste
- store in airtight container in fridge for up to 2 days or in freezer for up to 6 months.