Pistou, the French version of the Italian Pesto, is a Provençal dish, but here I have been playing around with the recipe to produce a tourangelle version with local ingredients.
1 bunch of basil
1-3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp chopped roasted hazel nuts
1 tbsp chopped roasted walnuts
1 tsp fleur de chèvre
100-250ml olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put all but the cheese and the oil in a food processor and whizz. Add the oil in a thin stream until you get a consistency you like. Mix in the cheese.
Serve spread on les toasts (croutes or toasted slices of pain or baguette), topped with a slice of fresh goat cheese.
The quantity of garlic in the recipe varies to accommodate personal taste, but also because when the basil is at its peak in July, the new season garlic is too. Often sold as ail violet, it is strong to the point of being inedible if you overdo the quantity. (Fresh raw garlic induces nausea, so beware!)
One of our local goat cheese producers makes a sort of grated Parmesan equivalent from finely crumbled very aged fromage de chèvre called fleur de chèvre. It's powerful stuff, and when I said to him I was going to substitute it for Parmesan in pesto, his advice was to use less than you would use of Parmesan. He's right.
The other goat's cheese, a demi-buche de fromage frais (a half log of fresh cheese ie only a few days old, not aged) is made by a different producer. She calls at the house on Mondays and Fridays and I nearly always buy something.
Walnuts and hazelnuts are widely grown in the Touraine, to the point that you do not need to buy them ever, you can just pick them up off the ground in parks and on roadsides. We have several trees of both growing in our orchard. They make a great substitute for pinenuts in pistou.
Christian and Martine gave us.
If you are in France and don't want to go to the bother of making your own pesto, then the best rapport qualité/prix (value for money) commercial pesto is Casino Délices pesto à la genovese 2.60€ (Casino is a French supermarket chain – both the mini-supermarkets in Preuilly are Casinos).