Indulge in the vibrant flavours of French cuisine with our exquisite Basil Pistou! Bursting with fresh basil and fragrant garlic, this versatile condiment is a culinary gem that transcends dietary restrictions. Whether you’re following a gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free lifestyle, our Basil Pistou is the perfect companion for elevating your dishes to new heights. From enhancing pasta sauces to drizzling over soups and stews, and even spreading on a crusty baguette, this vibrant green sauce adds a burst of aromatic goodness to every bite. Discover the endless possibilities and savour the simplicity of our Basil Pistou as it becomes a staple in your kitchen!
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What is Pistou? How Is It Different From Pesto?
Originating from the sunny region of Provence in southern France, pistou is a delightful and vibrant sauce that has captured the hearts and palates of many culinary enthusiasts. As a provencal version of Italian basil pesto, pistou showcases the aromatic power of fresh basil leaves but distinguishes itself with its simplicity and flavour profile. The French word “pistou” actually translates to “pounded” in the Provençal dialect, which perfectly describes the traditional method of making this sauce.
While traditional Italian Pesto typically includes ingredients like pine nuts, Parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese), garlic and sometimes lemon juice, pistou takes a more minimalist approach. The heart and soul of pistou lie in its main components: fresh basil, garlic, and high-quality olive oil. This combination creates a vibrant green sauce that exudes a pure and herbaceous flavour. What truly sets French Pistou Sauce apart is its omission of nuts and dairy, making it an ideal choice for those with dietary restrictions or allergies.
The absence of nuts and cheese in pistou sauce allows the flavours of the basil and garlic to shine through, creating a sauce that is lighter and fresher on the palate. And it must be mentioned that basil is an excellent source of vitamin K. The simplicity and purity of this easy recipe make basil pistou an incredibly versatile sauce that can be used in a myriad of ways. From stirring it into soups, tossing it with pasta, or spreading it on crusty bread, pistou adds a burst of herbaceous goodness to any dish. So, if you’re looking to embrace the essence of the South of France and add a touch of Mediterranean flair to your cooking, give pistou a try and experience its distinctive charm for yourself.
Equipment Needed: Food Processor vs Pestle and Mortar
When it comes to preparing pistou, you have two options: the traditional way using a mortar and pestle or the modern approach with a food processor.
The traditional method involves patiently grinding the ingredients in a mortar and pestle, resulting in a fine, smooth sauce. While undeniably delicious, this process can be laborious and not very time efficient.
However, for most applications, using a food processor yields equally delightful results. You can easily control the coarseness of the sauce by pulsing the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. However, large food processors will only work if you are making a large quantity of pistou.
However, even if you don’t have a pestle and mortar or a food processor, a large sharp knife will do the job too. Simply chop the ingredients extremely finely and mix them with olive oil to make a delightful, albeit slightly coarser basil sauce.
Whilst many modern recipes for Basil Pistou Sauce, use a variety of fresh herbs and sometimes add additional ingredients like cheese and nuts, we like to keep it simple. After travels in France, I am convinced that the French simply use basil, garlic and oil in their pistou recipe. So here’s exactly what you will need:
- fresh basil leaves: if you have basil plants on your window sill, this fresh French recipe is an excellent use of your homegrown basil in the summer season.
- garlic cloves: finely chopped. We do not recommend using ready-made garlic paste or garlic powder in this recipe!
- olive oil: use high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Basil Pistou Sauce Is Suitable For Most Diets
Basil Pistou is a culinary delight that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also caters to a wide range of dietary preferences. This versatile sauce is a dream come true for those following gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free diets, providing a burst of flavour without any compromise. With its plant-based ingredients, Basil Pistou proudly embraces a vegan lifestyle, making it a fantastic choice for individuals seeking delectable and animal-free options. Whether you’re looking to elevate your pasta dishes, make a great salad dressing, or dip a warm slice of bread into it, Basil Pistou opens up a world of possibilities for everyone, ensuring that flavour and dietary inclusivity can coexist harmoniously.
Method: How To Make Basil Pistou?
To prepare the Basil Pistou, start by placing finely chopped garlic and basil in a large pestle and mortar or a bowl of a food processor. With the traditional method, carefully bash the ingredients into a paste, releasing their fragrant essence. Alternatively, if using a food processor, blitz them until a smooth consistency is achieved.
Next, add the extra virgin olive oil, allowing it to infuse with the vibrant flavours of the garlic and basil. Finally, season the Pistou with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, enhancing its taste profile. Serve the pistou sauce immediately, as it will lose its bright green colour as time goes by (see tips below on how to keep it green for longer).
Tips & Tricks
- Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil! It really makes all the difference.
- Make Basil Pistou just before serving to ensure maximum freshness and vibrancy of colour. See the bullet point below if you are planning to make pistou ahead of time or anticipate having leftovers.
- Basil Pistou can turn from a vibrant green to brown. To prevent this, blanch the basil beforehand. Add the basil leaves to a pan of boiling water and let it boil for 30 seconds until it turns bright green. Then, quickly transfer the basil to an ice bath to cool and lock in the colour. Once cooled, remove the leaves from the water, gently squeeze out any excess water, and you’re ready to proceed with making your pistou.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. We do not recommend freezing it.
How To Use Basil Pistou?
Pistou Sauce is more versatile than you might think. We love using it in a range of recipes, from breakfast to dinner! One of our favourite ways to drizzle it is over pouched eggs, like in this Egg and Asparagus Bagel With Pistou Recipe! It goes well drizzled over Green Shakshuka or Turkish Eggs as well.
Basil also pairs very well with fish. We love it in our Pan-Seared Sea Bass With Pistou recipe.
What is more, this French sauce can act as a delicious salad dressing. Simply mix it in with green beans and cherry tomatoes. It can also be used as a dressing in our Courgette Ribbon Salad or other green salad recipes.
If you have plenty of leftovers, try mixing basil pistou into tomato sauce to use on pizza or pasta.
Moreover, it makes a beautiful dip for bread (especially homemade baguettes).
More Basil Recipes
If you have an abundance of basil, here are a few more recipes for you to consider:
- Basil and Walnut Pesto with Cheddar
- Crispy Almond Chicken Breast with Cherry Tomato Basil Sauce
- Pink Beet Crêpes with Cream Cheese & Basil Filling
- Large Pestle and Mortar or Food Processor
- 30 g fresh basil leaves finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Place finely chopped garlic and basil in a pestle and mortar or a bowl of a food processor. Bash the ingredients into a paste, releasing their fragrant essence. Alternatively, if using a food processor, blitz them until a desired consistency is achieved.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil, allowing it to infuse with the vibrant flavours of the garlic and basil.
- Season the Pistou with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
- Bon appétit!