Pistou sauce, or just pistou, is a cold sauce made from Cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil. Some more modern versions of the recipe include grated parmesan, pecorino or similar hard cheeses. Traditionally, the ingredients are crushed and mixed together in a mortar with a pestle, (pistou means pounded in the French Provençal language). The word "Pistou" is an introduction from Genoa dialect "Pesto" as it has been brought in Provence in 19 th century by Italian immigrants from Genoa and Ligury ( 30 % of Provence population are of italian origin).
Pistou & Pesto
It is most often associated with the Provençal dish soupe au pistou or minestrone al pesto (Ligury) Both pistou and pesto probably share the same origins. The Roman poet Virgil describes a sauce of crushed herbs, garlic, salt, and olive oil. A version with pinoli emerged around Genoa to become pesto, while pistou evolved in the areas around Nice.
Some regions, especially those closer to the Alps, substitute Swiss cheese in the place of Parmesan. Whatever cheese is used, it is preferred that it not be a "stringy" cheese, so that when it melts in a hot liquid (like in the pistou soup, for instance) it does not melt into long strands.
- A big handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 fat Clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 100ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Blanch the basil leaves in a pan of boiling water for 5-10 seconds.
- Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Drain and carefully press out any excess water.
- Blitz the garlic and basil in a food processor (using the smallest bowl available).
- Blend to a purée, adding the olive oil, slowly, a little at a time.
- Season to taste.
- Refrigerate in a lock and lock-style container until required.
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