This sauce evokes Provence at its productive best, in summer, when farms and family gardens are at their peak, yielding vegetables with an incomparable depth of flavor.
Note: When making aioli—or any mayonnaise-style sauce—think slow, slow, slow as you add the oil. If you do, then you’re guaranteed success. But if the aioli does separate, put an egg yolk in another bowl and slowly whisk the separated aioli into it.
6 garlic cloves, green germ removed
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 large egg yolks
2 cups (500 ml) grape seed or other neutral oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) fine quality, extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Make a paste of the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle, by working the pestle around slowly, always in the same direction, in the mortar. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, either finely mince the garlic with the salt, transfer it to a medium-sized bowl and press on it with a wooden spoon until it makes a rough paste; or simply mince the garlic and salt together in a food processor and transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl.
2. Whisk in the mustard and egg yolks until they are blended with the garlic and salt. Then, using either the pestle or a whisk, add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the neutral oil very slowly in a fine, fine stream, until the mixture becomes thick. Don’t add the oil too quickly or the mixture will not emulsify.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice to the oil and garlic mixture, then add the remaining oil very, very slowly, whisking or turning the pestle constantly. The aioli will gradually thicken to the consistency of a light mayonnaise. Adjust the seasoning, and add more lemon juice if it needs more tang. If it becomes very, very thick you might add 1 tablespoon of warm water to loosen it.
4. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Aioli will keep for several days in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, but is best served within 24 hours of being made.
About 6 servings
Susan Herrmann Loomis teaches cooking classes in Normandy and Paris. www.onruetatin.com.
The latest of her ten books, Nuts in the Kitchen, is published by HarperCollins. Find it in the France Today Bookstore:www.francetoday.com/store
Originally published in the July/August 2011 issue of France Today