Provençal Pistou and Pâte au Pistou (French-Provençal noodles dressed with Pistou)

Provençal Pistou and Pâte au Pistou (French-Provençal noodles dressed with Pistou)

Pistou, the (French) Provençal version of Pesto alla Genovese, omits the pine nuts or walnuts in the Italian original. It can be used on pasta (pâte), or spread on toast crusts (croûte) for the traditional Provençal fish soups, or simply spread thinly on crusty bread for an appetizer treat.

Bowl: Marmalade Pottery, Athens GA
Pistou-dressed pasta can serve as its own course or as a side dish with a strongly flavored meat course.

I like some cilantro in it, even if it isn’t traditional.

Pistou sauce
1 1⁄2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1⁄2 cup parsley leaves, flat “Italian” type preferred, lightly packed
1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed (optional)
1 medium-large cloves garlic, peeled
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3⁄4 teaspoon salt, plus more for boiling pasta
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Put basil, parsley, cilantro, garlic, oil and salt in a food processor or blender. Pulse it a number of times, scraping down the container with a spatula. Do not purée the herbs, but chop them until they are tiny specks.

Remove the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the cheese. Taste a little (it’s strongly flavored), and add salt if necessary.

(Use as is for a spread.) If making the pasta dish:

12 ounces narrow flat noodles (fettuccini, narrow egg noodles, etc.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-1⁄2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and stir well immediately so it doesn’t stick together. Let boil, stirring frequently. When pasta is tender to the bite, remove 1⁄4 cup of the pasta-boiling water and stir it into the pistou.

Drain pasta in a colander, shaking once or twice, and transfer it to a large serving bowl. Toss pasta with the diluted pistou. Taste, and add a little salt if needed.

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