Kalyn's Kitchen

French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child

French Pistou Sauce in honor of Julia Child is another delicious way to freeze fresh basil, and you’ll love pulling this out of the freezer! And this delicious sauce with fresh basil is dairy-free and freezes well! Use Fresh Herbs to find more recipes like this one.

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French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child (dairy-free, can freeze)

For years I’ve been freezing fresh basil, and I’ve also used my garden basil to make basil pesto for the freezer. This year though, buzz about Julia Child, the upcoming movie of Julie and Julia, and thoughts of Soupe au Pistou inspired me to use my first basil pickings for French pistou sauce instead.

What’s the difference between pesto and pistou? A little quick research turned up many variations of Pistou. Some recipes include tomatoes, parsley, or other herbs, and Pistou may or may not have cheese. Most times though Pistou doesn’t contain nuts, and Pistou usually has more garlic in proportion to basil than pesto does. Pesto and Pistou are both best made to your own taste anyway, so here’s my version of Pistou, which I’m looking forward to drizzling on soup next winter.

Another Option for Freezing Fresh Basil: French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child found on KalynsKitchen.comThis is a medium-sized colander, but as you can see, I have rather a lot of basil. When you trim the basil, cut through the stems, being careful to leave some leaves on the stem to produce new plant growth. Pull or snip the leaves from the stems and wash in a salad spinner or wash in the sink and dry with paper towels. (I like to snip the leaves, because the basil turns your fingers black!) Put the washed and dried basil leaves in the food processor with the garlic and salt and process until finely chopped. Then add the olive oil and pulse just a few times to combine. You can also remove the chopped basil from the food processor and stir in the olive oil. I might do that next time, because if you over-process with the oil added, it gives the Pistou a cloudy “emulsified” look.

Another Option for Freezing Fresh Basil: French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child found on KalynsKitchen.com

I made quite a few batches of Pistou from the basil I picked, and froze it in 1/2 cup servings, which seemed to me like about the right amount to add to soup or mix into basil vinaigrette. I got 8 half-cup containers of Pistou from the basil I trimmed from my plants. After I filled the containers, I drizzled a little olive oil over the top of each to keep the basil from turning dark in the freezer. Just mix this oil into the Pistou when it’s thawed.

I recommend putting a label and the date on things you put in the freezer, even if you’re “sure” you will remember what it is! Have you ever made Pistou? If so, we’d love to hear about your Pistou recipes or ideas for using pistou in the comments.

French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child (Fresh Basil, Garlic, and Olive Oil Sauce)

French Pistou Sauce in honor of Julia Child is another delicious way to freeze fresh basil.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (very firmly packed into measuring cup)
  • 3 T chopped fresh garlic (or use garlic puree from a jar, although Julia would probably not approve)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.)


  1. Wash and dry basil leaves and put in food processor. (This sauce can also be made with in small batches in a mortar and pestle if you’re feeling ambitious.)
  2. Add garlic and salt and process until basil is finely chopped (close to a minute, depending on your food processor.)
  3. Add oil and process only a few pulses (or remove the chopped basil to a bowl and stir in the oil, which is what I would do if I was only making one batch.)
  4. Place pistou into individual freezer-proof plastic containers with a tight lid.
  5. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top of the pistou in each container.


This recipe was adapted slightly from a blog that’s no longer online, with a peek at my one lonely Julia Child Cookbook!

All images and text ©

Recipes Where I’d Use My Basil Pistou:

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese Holiday Spread
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes
Basil Vinaigrette for Drizzling on Tomatoes
Summer Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese, Basil Vinaigrette, and Fresh Herbs
Chickpea Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Basil

Julia Child’s Pistou Online:

Soupe au Pistou from The Blog That Ate Manhattan
Soupe au Pistou from One Perfect Bite
Soupe au Pistou from Cooking in Color
Vegetable Soup Provencal from Ms. Glaze’s Pommes d’Amour
Chunky Pistou Soup from Dhangitt’s Kitchen
Provencal Soupe au Pistou from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

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    37 Comments on “French Pistou Sauce in Honor of Julia Child”

  1. I make kale pistou! My neighbor saw a recipe for it. We are dairy free, so cheese wasn't an option. I use walnuts to make it pesto-like! Tastes just as good as basil… though I wouldn't have believed it! My kale grows like crazy! I'm going to try a mixture of basil and kale this year. Good nutrition too! We use it on baked haddock with lemon drizzled liberally!

  2. Kathleen, answered above for another reader: I bought those containers more than 10 years ago at Fred Meyer (now Smith Marketplace) in Salt Lake. I've never seen them anywhere else since then. (Thank goodness I did buy several packages of them!)


  3. I'd really like to get some freezer containers like your; can you let me know where to purchase? Thanks.

  4. Anonymous, if you trim the basil stalks and leave some lower leaves, you should be able to nurture the plants back to health. Hope so!

  5. I'd also like to thank you for your methods of measuring and freezing basil. I am hoping to salvage some of my herbs today. I was in the hospital for five days, somewhat unexpectedly…came home yesterday and the plants do not look so good. So I will use these techniques. Wish me luck.

  6. Richelle, wish I could get more of them, but I bought those containers more than 10 years ago at Fred Meyer (now Smith Marketplace) in Salt Lake. I've never seen them anywhere else since then. (Thank goodness I did buy several packages of them!)

  7. Kalyn…where did you get your freezer containers? They are the PERFECT size for this!

  8. Kalyn, thanks for posting this. I've actually never heard of pistou until now, but it looks delicious. Another way to use it might be on a whole wheat pizza crust with reduced-fat mozzarella and fresh tomatos. A lot of pizza places here in LA make 'pesto pizza.' I love your recipes! Right in line with my low GI diet.

  9. Got an excellent tip here! Drizzling olive oil on top to keep them from turning dark when frozen. Didn't know about that one, that's certainly handy. Thanks so much!

  10. I love this. I have to make some and freeze it. This is always so convenient in the winter.

  11. great idea to make pistou! I usually make pesto, but lately, I have had several soup recipes that call for a pistou finish. The last one used mint and parsley, your post has given me the idea to whip up some of that for the freezer too!

  12. Maris right now my garden is amazingly full of weeds, but the herbs don't seem to mind!

  13. Your garden must be amazing! Looks like such beautiful, fresh basil. I really need to start an herb garden!

  14. The wonderful thing about pesto/pistou is that you can use it as a "template".

    After you learn the basic recipe, you can then begin to branch out in other directions.

    The basic template is herb or greens, nuts, cheese, garlic and good-quality olive oil. Some variations include citrus in the form of lemon juice or zest. So if you don't have basil, you could for example, use mint, arugula or garlic scapes. In place of pine nuts, walnuts or pistachios are wonderful. Cheese could be Parm-Reg, pecorino or grana padano.

    One variation I regularly make is ramps pesto. When ramps are in season, from late March through mid- to late-May, I buy a couple of pounds and use half for pesto. Keeps for up to three weeks refrigerated or may be frozen for a longer period. If you do freeze it, add the cheese prior to using.

  15. Absolutely perfect timing! I was planning on harvesting another batch of basil this weekend for pesto, but this is an even better idea!

  16. This is a great way to preserve basil for winter. I also do my cilantro the same way. It's wonderful when summer is just a memory.