Pistou is a Provençal cold sauce made from garlic, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. It is somewhat similar to pesto, although it's made without nuts and often without cheese. Then again, modern versions of the recipe include grated cheese such as parmesan, pecorino or similar hard cheeses. Also along the same lines, a somewhat similar sauce is Argentinean chimichurri sauce, which is made with parsley.
I’ve been eating tons of vegetables lately—it just feels great to my system. On the other hand, I can't deny having the occasional urge for a rib eye straight from a hot, flaming grill.
Throughout the Northeast, farmers have been busy these last few weeks planting their first seeds. It's predicted that we will start seeing local spring vegetables at the market towards the end of April. I'm already thinking about curly-leafed Savoy cabbage, baby golden beets, crunchy pink and purple radishes, pungent-fragrant spring garlic, mild baby onions, curly-leafed spinach, perhaps some morel mushrooms and all kinds of vibrant herbs.
I really love those first-of-the-season vegetables; they're subtle and make a lovely steamed potpourri of tender baby vegetables. Add a spoonful of pistou over the vegetables just before serving—the basil will tickle your nostrils with its seductive fragrance.
Tender Baby Greens
(recipe yields four servings)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large golden beet, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups savoy cabbage, about a quarter head of cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch small radishes, cut in half
1 bunch spring onions, cut in half and then into mouth-sized pieces
1) In a gallon-sized pot bring 2 cups water to boil add 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook beets covered with a lid 15 minutes. Add spring onions cook for 5 minutes. Add radishes and savoy cabbage and cook for 5 minutes for a total cooking time of 25 minutes.
(recipe makes 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup or 3 ounces fresh basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1) In a quart-sized pot, bring 1/2 cup of water and garlic to boil and continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Chill garlic water in the refrigerator.
2) Rinse basil with water, remove thick stems and throw out.
3) If you have a mortar and pestle, grind basil, then incorporate garlic, salt and olive oil. If you have a kitchen blender, combine basil, garlic water, and salt and process for 30 seconds on the high-speed setting. Slowly add oil through the lid opening and process 30 seconds longer.
Chef’s Tip: Store pistou in a closed container such as a glass jar in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 7 days in the refrigerator.