Using harvested stuff – Pistou

Today it’s not about pak choi again, but about basil. Claiming that I’d be using freshly harvested homegrown basil would, however, be a slight lie. The basil wasn’t really harvested – more a matter of thinning out the leaves that looked a bit sad. And I didn’t really grow it; I bought a pot at the grocery store, split the root clump in four and repotted it. I did get it to grow quite a bit though, so it’s not all smoke and mirrors.

Pistou is what it sounds like – a French pesto (or, more correctly, a pesto from Provence) differing from its Italian counterpart by not containing nuts or seeds and that the cheese is optional. I opted cheese in, since one of the reasons I had for making this was to use up the Grana Padano in the fridge so we can start on the Parmigiano reggiano. Basil, cheese, garlic, salt, oil. All you need, but more salt and less oil than you will actually need.

Just as the names pistou and pesto indicate, it’s traditionally made using a mortar and pestle. Sometimes ‘traditional’ only means ‘the hand blender wasn’t yet invented’. If I was making a larger batch and in possession of a better mortar and pestle, I’d probably think differently.

Three minutes or so later, a small bowl of pistou. The bowl holds about three tablespoons.

In Provence pistou is often served with bread or with vegetable soup. We used it to liven up an otherwise potentially boring dish of pasta and bratwurst.

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3 Responses to “Using harvested stuff – Pistou”

  1. Fun! The pistou looks beautiful. I grow basil and have made batches with a mortar and pestle now and then. It takes some dedication if you want a cup or two.

    • I’ll try the mortar and pestle method sometime when I’m not in a hurry, but I think I prefer hand blender…

      Also, eagerly awaiting the red-leaf basil I’ve grown from seeds, which is now about an inch and a half tall. Should make a rather strange-looking pesto :)

      • seems sort of wrong, red basil…
        and mortar and pestle pesto is lovely in aesthetic terms but not so much fun to actually make, in the end.

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