Makes about 1 1/4 cups
  • Active time: 20 min
    Total time: 20 min
Pistou is Provence's version of Italian pesto, minus the nuts. Although it's most often associated with Soupe Au Pistou a vegetable soup that is almost magically transformed by a spoonful of pistou added to your bowl at serving time, pistou will enliven just about anything. Try it drizzled over steamed vegetables, or even toss it with hot pasta. Who cares if it doesn't have nuts? To keep your pistou from turning dark, make sure the leaves are really dry.
Published in Gourmet Live 08.15.12


  • 2 cups basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Large pinch salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, salt, black pepper, 1/4 cup each Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil and pulse to blend. Scrape down the sides. With the motor running, add the remaining 3/4 cup olive oil slowly. Pulse and blend in remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.


  • If you want to make the pistou by hand, the way Sally Darr did at Julia Child's Provençal house, wash and dry 2 cups basil leaves, and tear them into pieces, discarding stems and center ribs. Combine them in a 4-cup mortar or a similar-size wooden salad bowl with 4 peeled garlic cloves, coarsely crushed, 1 heaping tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. With a pestle, pound and mash the mixture until it is crushed well and combined. Add 4 more tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano and 7 more tablespoons olive oil in 4 or 5 batches, pounding and mashing pistou against the side of the mortar or bowl with each addition, until it forms a thick, slightly fluid sauce. (This version makes 1 cup and takes at least 45 minutes to make.)
This recipe has not been tested in the Gourmet Live kitchens.
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