It never ceases to amaze me how most people know exactly what pesto is yet when you mention the term pistou, it’s blank faces all round. This no-nut French cousin of pesto is just as delicious and even easier to make. No toasting of pine nuts required here.
So, as pistou forms one half of my blog’s title, I thought it was about time we did it justice and featured its many attributes in a post dedicated to this most provençal of accompaniments. Commonly associated with the dish soupe au pistou, a hearty, chunky vegetable soup which will feature on this page soon, pistou uses basil as its flavouring as does the classic pesto, but there tends to be more cheese and garlic than you would see in the Italian version. Just as recipes for pesto nowadays use all manner of herbs and nuts, I’ve gone for a sage pistou here as it’s a great match with autumnal courges (squash) many varieties of which seem to be on display everywhere I look right now. If you want to stick with basil for your pistou, just use twice as much as I’ve quoted for the sage in the recipe.
Regardless of your choice of herb, pistou comes with a warning: it is very garlicky, so use a little less than I’ve recommended if you’re anxious about it. Traditionally made in a pestle and mortar, this recipe works just as well in the blender and frankly I suspect you are more likely to try this quicker method at home. As with pesto, pistou is to be added to hot soups and pasta and should never be cooked on its own.
The sage pistou is a great match for the green gnocchi in my last post and would be lovely drizzled over just-out-of-the-oven, roasted autumnal vegetables. Or why not stir a generous spoonful into a homemade pumpkin or squash soup? Not quite soupe au pistou but warming and satisfying all the same.
10g sage leaves, torn roughly
15g garlic, crushed
50g parmesan, finely grated
100ml extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz for a few seconds until everything is combined. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
The sauce will keep for a couple of days in the fridge or longer if you cover it with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil.