Perfect palmiers with pistounade from Provence

SavouryPalmiers © J Horak-Druiff 2013


Hyperbole.  Litotes.  Alliteration. Onomatopeoia. Pun.  Oxymoron.

Hands up – who knows which of the above literary devices I used in the title to this post?  You see, despite this glossy facade of food bloggerness which you see before you, deep down I am just a language nerd.  Case in point:  I have been going through some of my  very old posts and renaming them lately, and I am mortified at all the silliness that used to go on my post titles.  “Wish I’d FIGured this one out myself” for a roasted fig salad.  “Gnocchi, gnocchi – who’s there“? for a dish of browned butter and sage gnocchi.  “Muscling in on Kent” for a review of a Belgian restaurant.  The cringeworthy list continues. And it appears that old habits die hard because here I am at it again – evidently I’m like a moth to the flame of literary devices.  But it was just too good to resist!  If life gives you pistouande from Provence (the Vaucluse to be exact), how can you NOT make perfect palmiers?




If you have ever been to Provence (and if not, I highly recommend that you go ASAP!), you will probably have come across pistou.  Both the word and the dish have been adopted from neighbouring Italy where it is better known as pesto.  But unlike Italian pesto genovese which is made with basil, pine nuts and cheese, in Provence the pistou generally made with olive oil, basil, and garlic only.  Cheese is sometimes added, but no nuts are included. Pistou is most often used in the typical soupe au pistou, a hearty vegetable soup with a dollop of pistou added before serving to infuse the soup with the fresh basil flavour.  Another ubiquitous treat in Provence is tapenade.  The word itself actually comes from the Provencal word for capers, which is tapenas, and the dish consists of finely chopped or crushed olives and capers, mixed with olive oil to form a paste.  It is usually served with bread as an appetiser and is one of my favourite things ever.

Vaucluse is one of the departments within the French region of Provence, occupying its north-west corner and bordered by the Rhone River to the west. The department is also home to the historic city of Avignon, established by the Celts in pre-Roman times and, for about 70 years in the 1300s, the temporary seat of the Roman Catholic papacy. Vast quantities of fruit and vegetables are cultivated in the lower-lying parts of the department, on one of the most fertile plains in southern France, making it something of a foodie paradise.  So I was understandably excited when the lovely folks at Vaucluse Tourist Board asked me whether I would like a couple of typical Vaucluse ingredients to cook with. Mais oui!



One of the items I received was a tub of Pistounade au basilic de Provence from Delices du Luberons.  The name derives from an amalgamation of pistou and tapenade – which is pretty much what this is:  a paste of basil and green olives.  It has a lovely fresh basil taste with the tang of olives and is less salty that a basil pesto would be (because the lack of Parmesan cheese).  It also seems less oily than most commercially available pestos.  Of course, the next dilemma was what to make?  I wanted something in keeping with the pistounade’s French roots so in the end I settled on savoury palmiers.  These pretty rolled puff-pastry treats originated in France around the turn of the 19th century but are popular all over Europe.  Also known as pigs’ or elephants’ ears, they are usually sweet but make fantastic savoury snacks too.

Thye are absolutely no trouble at all to make and can be made ahead and frozen, ready to slice and bake when your guests arrive.  And I can guarantee you they will FLY off the plate faster that you can say perfect palmiers with pistounade from Provence!

DISCLOSURE:  The Pistounade was a free sample sent to me by the Vaucluse Tourist Board.



PISTOUNADE PALMIERS (makes about 30)

1 roll of ready made puff pastry
About 100g Pistounade (or pesto)
4 Tbsp grated Pecorino cheese


Remove the pastry from the fridge about 10 minutes before using.  Unroll the pastry onto a piece of clingfilm – it should be about long and 25cm wide.

Lightly mark the centre point of the long side of the pastry.  Spread the Pistounade evenly over the whole piece of pastry – try not to get too much of the oil onto the pastry, more of the green paste itself.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pistounade.

One at a time, from each short edge, carefuly roll up the pastry to the centrepoint – the two rolls should meet in the middle and be of equal size.  Carefully wrap the entire double roll in clingfilm and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  (if you are making the roll well in advance, refrigerate it but then put it in the freezer for 30 mins before slicing).

When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 200C and remove the pastry roll from the freezer.  Slice in 1/2cm thick slices and lay the slices out on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving space in betweenfor expansion. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until puffy and golden.  Serve hot with drinks.

Variations:  instead of pistounade, try sun-dried tomato pesto, basil pesto or black olive tapenade.  You can also use just or finely grated hard cheese, but moisten the pastry with a little olive oil or water first so that the cheese sticks to the pastry while rolling.

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  1. says

    Oooooh Don would love you forever if you gave him pigs ears :) His all time favourite pastry snack! What a delightful savoury snack. Love the idea of the pistounade! I make a pastry pinwheel with red pepper pesto and finely chopped fried bacon…also most delicious! Absolutely love your photos, especially the top one. Hugs xx

  2. says

    They look seriously impressive too!
    I know what you mean about clever titles – I also have a weakness for playing with words – except it’s not seo friendly – pity the search engines don’t have a similar sense of humour!

  3. says

    I like punny titles … as long as I have a clue what the subject matter is (because although I always read posts at the original sites, I navigate to them via my RSS reader and I only click to open those with titles that appeal, as I have too many blog subscriptions to read every single post). But punny titles are fun and, what’s more, one of the nice personal touches that differentiate a blog from an impersonal newspaper or magazine!
    PS LOVE how simple this recipe is!

  4. says

    I don’t have anything clever to say, but I would very much like to visit Provence and/or eat these perfect palmiers with pistounade.
    Mmm yes.. preferably both!

  5. says

    You have so perfectly described the place where I live! I am about 20 mins from Avignon. I have never heard of pistounade, it must be a new invention and the French don’t normally venture into new culinary territory but it makes perfect sense. These look delicious and I can’t wait to try them for one of my ‘filles de mardis’ evenings to enjoy with an ‘apero’. Merci

  6. says

    I did not know you were a language nerd Jeanne and love that you are. I could tale some of your lead there and go back and rename a lot of my posts. I know one of them is titled ‘I wipe bums for a living’ . ….. hopefully that one is about kids and not a recipe :0)
    I also had never heard of a pistounade but yours looks like it is worth a shot.
    Glad you had a nice holiday, welcome back!

  7. says

    They look lovely Jeanne, all I need is a glass of a chilled rosé and I’d be back there. Had a week in Saignon near Apt and it was brilliant. Some great meals and delicious produce and the markets.. fantastiques!

  8. says

    he he he I kinda like your nerdy titles. And I love palmiers and love pesto or pistou when it is wrapped like this. I made something similar recently though they did not come out as perfect and pretty as yours… But I did once make savory swirl buns with pesto. Oh, the possibilities are endless! Now back to the drawing board…

  9. says

    Goodness they look good! And nice and simple to make. I think I need to investigate pistounade for The Good Fork’s deli-boxes.
    What a lovely recipe for a bit of September sunshine….

  10. says

    They look really pretty Jeanne! I hope you feel better in the meantime. Too bad we missed seeing eachother this weekend! Would have been nice to meet again… (o and I love your little play with words!)

  11. says

    Gorgeous Jeanne. I have made these with vegemite – making them a true Aussie snack. But I must confess I do prefer the original with sugar. I love the gnocchi gnocchi joke too.

  12. says

    Simple, delicious and easy to throw together. I usually make pinwheels with all sorts of pestos, which is always a hit with guest. And a language nerd ha! BORG!

  13. Christie-Anne Wolmarans says

    Made them last night, had such a struggle as I bought butter puff pastry and I did not drain the oil from the pesto…but it was still yummy though!