We were having folk over for an evening of food and chatting. Bob was going to demonstrate how to make mozzarella at home – pretty simple, and fun, too! – and I thought I’d make a fresh batch of naan to go under that freshly made mozz on the grill.
Now, what to place between the naan and the mozz?
I had some of our new favorite roasted tomatoes in the fridge, but wanted something more, something green…
Think pesto, but without the nuts; this cold sauce from Provence has all the basil and garlic and parsley (I like parsley) goodness, along with olive oil, sea salt, Aleppo pepper, Emmentaler and Parmesan cheeses and none of the nuts, which would’ve been an issue for one of our dinner guests that evening. While it doesn’t have to have cheese, I thought the nicely aged Emmentaler I had in my cheese drawer would add back in a bit of nutty flavor.
It did, and then some.
My finished pistou came out a touch on the thick side to be called a ‘sauce’ – mebbe more like a ‘spread’. Some recipes add freshly chopped tomatoes to the mix, but I had those roasted bits of goodness coming as their own layer on the naan, so skipped that bit. No matter, it was still wicked good, and I will be making it again. If you want a thinner, more sauce-like pistou, mebbe cut down on the cheese, or add in mebbe 1/4 cup seeded plum tomatoes.
•2 cups fresh basil leaves
•2 cups fresh parsley
•1-1/2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
•1 tsp sea salt
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•3/4 cup shredded Emmentaler cheese
•1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
•1/4 cup olive oil
•Good squeeze fresh lemon juice
Shred your cheeses and set aside. If you don’t have Emmentaler, Swiss or Gruyère would be fine, or, if you prefer, you could use all Parmesan, or really just about any hard-ish cheese.
Add the basil, parsley, and garlic to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until finely minced.
Add the cheese and pulse a few more times to blend well.
Add the sea salt and the Aleppo pepper – I’ve mentioned this before, but I add this flaked, smoky red pepper to just about everything but desserts. It offers just a touch of heat, and a lot of flavor. If you can’t find any, use mebbe 1/4 to 1/2 as much crushed red pepper and perhaps a pinch of cumin.
Give the processor another couple of pulses to blend, then, with the processor running, stream in the oil oil through the feed tube.
Remove the cover, give the pistou a taste, and, if you think it needs it, add a bit more sea salt, some black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I thought mine was fine on the salt and pepper front, but the lemon juice was the perfect finish.
We spread ours on top of naan slices, topped that with some of those lovely roasted tomatoes, and finished it off with slices of Bob’s freshly made mozzarella.
A few minutes on a hot grill, or mebbe 15 minutes in a 350º oven will yield one truly fine combination of bread and cheese and veggies and fruit (tomatoes are a fruit, recall). I topped mine off with a bit more Aleppo pepper and a drizzle of one of my new (to me) favorite condiments – Tiger Sauce.
Thick or thin, the pistou was perfect on these flatbread ‘zas, and stirring a spoonful or two into a veggie soup would, I think, be a very good thing.