Vendredi Vocab: Pistou



pistou [pees-TOO] A mixture of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil used as a condiment or sauce. It’s the French version of Italy’s pesto.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 581

Pistou! It’s the cutest little word, with the simplest definition, but for some reason, I had never heard it before the girl & the fig. And I am often asked by our customers what it means. At any given moment, we are sure to be using pistou somewhere on our menu. Such a classic combination of ingredients and an integral compliment to our style of food – country food with a French passion. It’s also a wonderful combo because you can make it your own by adding other ingredients.

The only difference in ingredients compared with pesto is that the Italian version traditionally includes pine nuts and cheese (parmesan or pecorino) in addition to the basil, garlic, and olive oil. Traditionally, the ingredients of pistou are crushed and mixed together in a mortar and pestle (pistou means “pounded” in the Provençal language). The word “pistou” was introduced from Genoese dialect “pesto” after being brought into Provence in the 19th century by Italian immigrants from Genoa and Ligury (30% of the Provençal population is of Italian origin). (Source)

On our menu right now is this dish of goodness…Lamb Shank with white beans and nettle pistou – the main course on the Bistro Plat du Jour this week.

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Photos courtesy of Jeremy Zimmerman

We are also doing an appetizer of risotto, grilled spring onions, mascarpone, and a green garlic pistou…it’s rich and delicious and the green garlic makes for a flavor that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s a subtler version of garlic that almost has sweet qualities to it.

If you aren’t in the neighborhood to come enjoy our current pistou dishes, you can make your own at home and try it atop your favorite meats, fish or soups. It would go wonderfully with a white bean soup and it also works very well for vegan dishes, like farro with roasted vegetables…mmm.


Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

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