French in a Flash: Allumettes with Pistou Recipe

French in a Flash

Quick and easy recipes that prove that great French food doesn't require a tall hat and a fancy kitchen.

French in a Flash: Allumettes with Pistou Recipe

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

Allumettes means matchsticks, and in the kitchen they not only mean the little sticks of wood used to ignite a stove, but also long thin strands of anything crisp, be it French fries, or more commonly, twigs of crisp puff pastry served as snack or to dip into soups.

These allumettes are slightly longer than the industrial standard, baking up to be over a foot long. They're made from pizza dough, chewy and crisp, like fougasse, France's version of focaccia. I smother store-bought pizza dough with homemade basil pistou. If you want to be dogmatic about the pistou, leave out the nuts (the distinguishing factor between the Proven├žal pistou and Ligurian pesto). Then I cut the dough, twist the strands, and bake them. They brown and crisp that way that Parmesan does. The olive oil seems to melt into the bread, and the basil glues onto the allumettes. With little effort, I have delicious better-than-breadsticks. I serve them in a jam jar so they stick up like edible branches. Delicious!

  • Yield:14


  • 1 pound pizza dough (recipe for making it at home)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 finely grated Parmegiano Reggiano


  1. 1.

    Place pizza dough in large bowl lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with damp paper towel (not touching dough), and cover that with dry kitchen towel. Allow to sit in warm place and proof for 2 hours.

  2. 2.

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Make pistou by pulsing garlic in food processor until finely chopped. Add basil and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, stream in olive oil. Scrape down sides, and pulse again to incorporate. Season mixture with salt and pepper, and add cheese. Pulse to combine. There should be 3/4 cup of pistou. Spoon into small bowl, and set aside.

  3. 3.

    Roll out dough on floured surface into 16-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup pistou over one side of dough. Cut dough into long 1/2-inch strands. Twist several times and place on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Lightly brush tops of allumettes with olive oil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans in oven, until golden and crisp. Cool on rack. Serve in jam jars.