David's Recipe for Pistou

Condiment, French, Provenšal

Blender-made pistous are much less work, but those made with a mortar and pestle have a better texture. This recipe using both has a traditional texture and is a little less work. As with any other recipe using raw eggs, first check with your local authorities to see if your eggs are safe.

  • Leaves from 20 sprigs fresh basil (3 packages around here)
  • Leaves from 40 sprigs fresh parsley (1 package around here)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Small pinch of baking soda
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic.
  2. Chop fine the basil and parsley, add a little to the mortar a little at a time with some of the baking soda, and crush with the garlic. Add some egg yolk and crush together some more. Do this until all of the garlic, basil, parsley, baking soda, and yolks are used up. If you have a small mortar, you may have to do this in several batches.
  3. A little at a time, crush the herb mixture into the cheese.
  4. Put the herb-cheese mixture into a blender, and blend on low to medium speed for about a minute, until the herbs have become noticeably finer and the background mixture is light green. If the mixture is too thick for your blender to handle, add a little of the olive oil and start and stop or pulse the blender.
  5. Pour or spoon the mixture into a bowl.
  6. Add the olive oil to the herb-cheese mixture a little at a time, stirring vigorously by hand after each additions, as if you were making mayonnaise.
  7. This pistou is a 'permanent' emulsion, and will stay emulsified for hours at room temperature without separating. (It's probably a bad idea to keep it for hours at room temperature, though, since the raw egg mixture might become dangerously spoiled.) If it does separate, vigorous stirring will put it back together again.
  8. Serve a dollop on soup or pasta.

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