Trigger Warning: Mint Jelly With Easter Lamb Is Gross — Serve It With Pistou Instead
Think of mint pistou as a cousin to pesto.
At Easter dinner, roasted lamb is often served with mint jelly. Although it may sound like an odd pairing, mint and lamb work well together. According to science, lamb’s fatty acids match the mint’s ketone chemicals; this flavor chemistry blends the combo’s meatiness, earthiness, and herbiness in perfect harmony. Eating mint jelly alongside lamb became popular in the 1900s, a time when gelatin dishes were seen as delicacies. And while this condiment is still available in stores, I can’t say I’m a fan of its emerald green color and slimy texture. Instead, I opt for mint pistou — a delicious, vibrant herb sauce that’s quick to make. Keep reading to learn what mint pistou is and why it’s better than the jellied condiment.
The Past and Present History of Pistou
You’ve likely tasted pesto, an Italian green basil sauce, with pasta or vegetables. Well, meet the French version of pesto, better known as pistou (pronounced “pu-stew”). Pistou is often made with the same ingredients as pesto, such as basil, garlic, and olive or canola oil. Therefore, the two sauces share a similar chunky texture that complements meats, soups, and seafood. But, unlike pesto, pistou doesn’t contain pine nuts, and cheese is an optional ingredient.
Pistou was reportedly created in the 18th century and translates to “pounded” in the Provençal dialect of Occitanie (a region in France), which references how the ingredients were combined. Today, food processors blend pistou ingredients instead of mortar and pestles. This sauce can also be made using herbs like mint or parsley rather than basil.
Replacing mint jelly with pistou imparts a subtly sweet flavor onto cooked lamb without an unpleasant, jellied texture. Even better: Mint pistou requires no cooking and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare — a win-win.
How To Make Mint Pistou
The butchers and chefs at Walden Local Meat swear by mint pistou as a condiment for a roasted leg of lamb. They shared their easy recipe with FIRST for Women, so you can make it at home yourself.
- 1 bunch of fresh mint
- 1 small bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- ½ cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more if needed
- Canola oil
- Salt and pepper
- Prep: 6 mins
- Active: 5 to 6 mins
- Total time: 11 to 12 mins
- In food processor, add mint, lemon, cheese, and parsley. Gently pulse 2 to 3 times, breaking down herbs.
- When paste forms, turn food processor on low and steadily drizzle in oil. You’ll hear sauce getting thicker as oil is emulsified, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Once sauce comes together, shut off machine and taste. Add more cheese, salt, and/or pepper if needed. Pour into serving dish, cover, and put in fridge until lamb is ready to serve.
Whether you’re enjoying roasted lamb for Easter to symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice or as a grilled meat this summer, mint pistou is the way to go. Beyond its fresh and herbaceous taste, pistou adds a pop of green that contrasts the meat’s rich brown exterior — so you’ll get a punch of flavor and color with every bite!