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Aioli is both the name of a classic garlic mayonnaise and a dish starring the sauce.  A gorgeous colorful platter composed of raw and lightly steamed vegetables, aioli can also include fish, typically salt cod, but also fresh, or tuna usually with potatoes. I like the vegetarian version best.  You cannot serve anything more tempting or more beautiful on a hot summer night. Aioli can be offered as a first course or the main event, with a chunk of artisan whole grain bread and some good cheese.  As for the vegetables, choose whatever is freshest, tastiest and prettiest at your farmer’s market.

Aioli aka Garlic Mayonnaise

My aioli consisted of cooked artichoke heart; fresh fennel, grape tomatoes, radishes and red bell pepper; and lightly steamed green beans, baby broccoli and romanesco. My version is not perfectly traditional in that I add a touch of mustard. The original classic was made with nothing but garlic, salt and oil, but I find the balance of flavors and texture of this enormously appealing.  I like it best the next day, when it’s had a chance to mellow just slightly.

  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup your best extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Tuscan or Spanish Arbiqueño)
  • 1 organic, farm-fresh egg yolk
  • 3-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of raw sugar
  1. In a marble or stone mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with the salt to a paste. Gradually work in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until you have a fairly smooth, almost fluffy puree.
  2. Briefly whirl the egg yolk in a food processor. Add the garlic puree and with the machine on, gradually add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil through the feed tube. Continuing to process, gradually add 2 teaspoons each lemon juice and water, then slowly drizzle in the remaining 3/4 cup oil. Don’t worry if a bit of the oil remains puddled around the blade.
  3. Scrape the aioli into a small bowl, using a scraper to get all the oil out of the machine. Whisk in the mustard, sugar, and additional lemon juice if you’d like. Season with additional salt to taste.  If not using at once, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Summer Vegetables with Aioli