Most people think of herbs and olive oil etc in a jar as always being Italian pesto. Well, this is the pistou sauce is the traditional classic French version of herbal delights in a jar and with only 3 ingredients this is super easy to make.
Classic French Pistou Sauce
Here as promised is my super easy recipe for Pistou that I showed you in my winter vegetable soup post on Wednesday.
What is Pistou Sauce?
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 its 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.
3 ingredients for French pistou sauce
While Pesto normally boasts some sort of grated hard cheese in its 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 three ingredients;
Extra virgin olive oil
Pistou is vegan friendly
Isn’t that great, a pesto type sauce that is vegan, no cheese in there at all but lots of amazing flavour.
Traditional way to make Provencal pistou sauce
For the very best and most traditional of Pistou 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.
The quick way to make pistou sauce
Of course, you can simply whizz up the garlic, salt and basil leaves in your food processor to form a paste.
Then drizzle in the olive oil and check your seasoning when you feel the sauce is complete.
How long does this keep?
Keep your Pistou in a covered jar in the fridge and use within four days.
When basil is abundant in summer make lots of this sensational pistou sauce and store it in your freezer for up to three months and enjoy summer sunshine all year round.
How to serve pistou sauce
Pistou is most commonly associated with the Provençal dish, Soupe au Pistou which is a summer vegetable soup. I have used it here in my classic winter vegetable soup.
Stir some pistou through your favourite pasta for a quick and easy supper dish.
Pistou is wonderful with chicken, grilled fish or simple steamed veggies.
Add it to sandwiches and wraps. Don’t forget the good old baked potato too!
This easy recipe for Pistou recipe is sure to become a firm favourite and something you add to your store cupboard repertoire.
Looking for more super easy sauces and dips to make at home? Then check these out before you go;
Check out my 50 Homemade Pantry Staples for loads more easy recipes for store cupboard basics.
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An Easy Recipe For Classic French Pistou Sauce
- 4 garlic cloves
- sea salt to taste
- 2 good handfulls of fresh basil leaves
- 125 ml/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 4 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.