Monday, September 8, 2008

Pistou! (It's Like Pesto, But Fraaaaahnch And Nutless)

basil coming out my ears
First, a confession: I am a terrible gardener. Awful, truly. I start off with excellent intentions in the fresh, damply promising spring, high on the possibilities and seed catalog porn, but by the time August, with its heat and dust and persistent weeds, rolls around, I think, "Isn't it almost October?" and absently wander off to Google pumpkin bread recipes and watch past seasons of America's Next Top Model on YouTube. So, I'm actually confessing that I'm not just a terrible gardener: I'm a shiftless nincompoop, too.

But the two things with which I have consistent growing success are 1) iris and 2) herbs. I find that both thrive under the benign neglect of my ochre thumb. So while I don't have any champion roses or award-winning heirloom tomatoes to share with you, I have basil, heaps of basil, and this is what I like to do with it:

pistou plated
Pistou! (Which is pronounced pees-too, like you're saying 'pesto' but with a really awful French accent. Oui, oui, hahn, hahn, HAHN!*) Pistou is basically a nutless (hee) version of pesto, which makes it ideal for people with tree nut allergies, and is made from just a few ingredients, which makes it ideal for people with meal planning allergies. It is fast and cheap and tastes like fresh, sweet, potent, oily summer. Pistou!

green cold
To make some pistou, grab yourself several fistfuls of basil leaves, about three or four cups. Now, right off the bat here, I'm going to screw things up. (Shiftless!) Traditional pistou is made with a mortar and pestle, but I use my food processor, blender, or small processing bowl of my immersion stick blender. Whatever you use, just pack your leaves in loosely and add:

gahlic
...one crushed clove of garlic...

salty
...and about a heaping teaspoon of kosher salt and few grinds of black pepper.

blended by my lovely assistant
If you have one on hand, enlist a preschooler to process the basil mixture until nearly smooth. These assistants are particularly useful if you also happen to have a blog, a blog that requires you to take photos of a stick blender in action. Pistou! Avec Preschoolers!

olive oil
After your basil mixture is fairly smooth, measure out about one-third cup of olive oil. Add the oil slowly, either by streaming through the processor tube or by adding a small amount at a time and pulsing between each addition.

blended
Soon you'll have a thick, emulsified sauce the color of spring grass. And, coincidentally, the color of pistou.

add cheese
At this point I like to add about one-half cup of finely grated Parmesan or Romano, but you can also use a milder cheese, like a nice Gouda. Again, you can see that the wee, pink, preschooler fingers are helpful, if not particularly tidy. Whirl the cheese into your sauce et voila! Pistou!

fettucine with pistou
Pour over a few bowls of hot fettuccine (or any hot pasta), top with a little extra cheese, maybe some halved cherry tomatoes if you're particularly ambitious, and eat. At the risk of laying down some annoying, Martha-style elitism, there really is something to be said for eating food that was growing out of the earth just fifteen minutes before dinner.

noodly
And, at the risk of sounding like a shiftless glutton, there really is something to be said for extra cheese, both the kind that goes on top of the pasta and the kind hosted by Ms. Tyra Banks.

PISTOU! FIERCE!

*You know that noise that crude French stereotypes make in cartoons? Where they're kind of laughing in their guttural, crudely Frenchy way? That's what I was going for, but I had no idea how to spell it. How would you spell it? Google's got nothing for me, people.

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34 comments:

Nora Bee said...

Ooooh la la! Zee pistou eez le yum.

hippyhappyhay said...

Yeah, the French do nothing for me. Hurl something italian at me my ochre thumbed soul sister.

(PS, Miss Madi's party trick is being able to name the Top Model winner and runner-up from every season. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.)

dkuroiwa said...

Ooh..mon ami...this looks delish! I do love a good pesto...will try this sometime.
Since I have a hard time growing basil (but ask me about my rosemary..holy moly...i'm giving that stuff away!!)...I have found that using a pesto...and now possibly even a pistou...recipe, but...substitute the basil for (what we call in Japan) shiso...or perilla. Oh my...but the flavor is wonderful!! Also very good on pasta with lots and lots of parmesan!!!
Your pictures are so yummy looking good!!

Natalie said...

i've never made pesto or pistou or anything else even remotely similar. it does look yummy though. i'll have to buy my herbs though. yummy!

bluemountainsmary said...

So so so delicious - the pistou and the photos!

Louise said...

YUM! I have a pistou recipe, but it is SOUP! (It is terribly yummy), but I'm so hungry for this right now I may just mess up my whole days making some. (This is a non-cooking day for me because of too many other things to do.) And you're right about the fresh stuff. One of the main reasons I love summer, though by August I'm just walking by everything and begging for frost... except the basil, of course!

J. said...

If watching "America's Next Top Model" is wrong, I don't want to be right.

I think Nora Bee said it best. (Btw, I think your spelling of the "cartoon French," which the spouse and I say to each other all the time, eez gud, no? Oui! : )

Am off to make myself some pistou!

justjuli said...

Yum! My oatmeal breakfast is looking oh-so-lame now.

I need to go home tonight and get my herb on!

Candy Yum Yum said...

I think if you check this out, you'll see your Frenchy laugh in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5hrUGFhsXo

The Boddeker Blog said...

Yum! You crack me up with your French!

Mark Brown said...

It would be something like this:

Hwah-hwah-HWAH!

iloveupstate.com said...

I think we went to the same gardening school...I plant tons of stuff and the Spring rain does it's work and then around August it's too damn hot to carry buckets of water and I pray for rain. My tomatoes are NOT pleased at the moment. But...I do have lots of basil and I'm going to make some pistou immediately!

Lisa Milton said...

First Nora's recipe and now this.

I'm so very hungry.

(And October IS devoted to all things pumpkin. It's a sickness, really.)

planetnomad said...

I'm not sure you want to know this, but it is spelled hein? by the French. They pronounce it like a nasal huh? Is that what you were going for?
I thought pistou was a soup, but this looks very very yummy and made me hungry--except for the preschool fingers, which are always a bit too sweet and sticky for my taste, or gout (pronounced goot) as we say round here.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Basil is just about my favorite thing in the world.

the cheap chick said...

So, when's dinner? I'll bring the wine, you bring the bad French accent, and we'll have ourselves a time. Voila!

chris said...

Wonderful that you grow abundant herbs. To purchase 3 cups of basil at the market can get spendy!

Do the French grunt and spit when they speak? Wait, maybe that's the Germans... (I'm a little of both actually.)

Geekgrl64 said...

I think you're spelling of the haughty laugh were right on par. :)

MamaBird said...

Oh, I make this but with about a gallon more olive oil. And maybe a little more cheeeeeese. ;) Love it! Ya know, I go away for a weekend and your blog goes up in FLAMES. I was sure I was a shoo in for the blog makeover but I was so not even in the *running* -- will head over to your kind consolation event pronto. You rock, as usual, kind hearted woman.

Magpie said...

Mmm. Pistou, pesto, whatever.

Actually, I had cilantro pesto for dinner tonight. Surprisingly good.

The Girl Next Door said...

OOOH Pistou I love YOU! I must try this.

Sojourner said...

We must have been on the same wavelength, this week. I went and harvested an armload of basil from my garden (where the tomatoes refuse to ripen)and made pesto. I love the nuts! But I shall have to try this French version sometime. Looks good. And I think your spelling of this crazy French sound is perfect- knew right away what you meant. I used to have a girlfriend that a lot.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

May I just say I read this two days ago, and I'm STILL laughing out loud?

Also, I hear The Merovingian saying this title. "Piss-two."

I don't have armloads of basil this year to try this recipe, but it will be bookmarked for another summer when we have a garden again.

Casey said...

Mmmmm. Must try this. And I'm impressed that you can grow irises. Somehow, I've managed to kill all the ones that were growing here when we moved in.

Nancy said...

I love how you involve Miss Ellie!
Plus, you make it look so easy, even me and MY four-year old could do it...Oui oui!
:-)

togetherforgood said...

That just looks stinking good. :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

YAY!!!

This looks so dang gooooood. (I grow basil too.)

~m said...

mmm, you had me at the cheese. NO, wait! The frsh basil, I mean.
(no, actually, it really WAS the cheese...)

stephanie (bad mom) said...

You - most fantastique. Every time I read your food stuff, I honestly think I will go make a meal.

Wish you were here to prod me away from the computer and into action...

Regardless, I will always call it "pistou" now. Merci.

All Adither said...

Okay, how the heck to you grow basil? Outside it gets eaten and burned and inside it gets aphids. Ick. But I REALLY want to grow the stuff. Though we do have rosemary coming out our ears.

Shannon said...

I am sooooo making this tomorrow! YUM!

Shannon said...

I am sooooo making this tomorrow! YUM!

bellyspeak said...

First time on your blog. Wow. What a marvelous voice in your writing, your photography is right on, vibrant and participatory readership, and your amicability foils envy! Blerg! Anywho, yummy post. oh-rev-whar

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