There are many characteristics about French cuisine that I deeply admire, and one of them is the Grand Aioli. A celebration of vegetables and what’s in season at the market, the Grand Aioli is a feast that features a garlic mayonnaise, or
aioli, and an assortment of vegetables, often accompanied by a protein like shrimp, salt cod, chicken, smoked duck, or even Maine lobster.
Aoili, literally translated means “garlic-oil’. In France, the word also designates the ritual celebration of poached salt cod, boiled vegetables, had-cooked eggs, a selection of snails and other seafood. In the French fashion, everything is served warm on a large platter, as it would be impossible to get it all to the table hot.
A bounty of vegetables from both my own garden and my King Hill Farm CSA recently inspired me to prepare my Maine version of the Grand Aioli. As in any locally-inspired cooking, I’ve found if you relax and remember that it’s merely
a celebration of eating, creating your own Gland Aioil is quite simple.
First, assemble your vegetables. In our house, potatoes, in particular, new potatoes are tops. Scrubbed, thinly sliced, and steamed or boiled, they become the foundation. Next were steamed baby beets, carrots, and cauliflower. Sliced
sweet red and yellow peppers, perfectly ripe tomatoes and bright green cucumbers, all these delicious and nutritious vegetables were invited to the party. Cut the fresh veggies into attractive pieces, and cook the veggies like beets, carrots, green beans and cauliflower until like pasta, al dente, still a bit firm.
To prepare aioli or garlic mayonnaise, you can choose either the traditional garlic, oil and egg recipe, or the vegan rendition that has less fat and features tofu. If desired, add you choice of protein, like cooked Maine lobster, shrimp or crab, boiled eggs, smoked chicken or duck.
The presentation is key to your Grand Aioli. So much about how we enjoy what we eat is influenced by what we see. Arrange everything on a platter, garnish with chopped fresh parsley and some nasturtium flowers. Pour a glass of wine and celebrate Maine’s bounty at its finest.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice and mustard. Slowly add the oil and whisk until thick. Add the garlic and season to taste with sea salt fresh pepper. Makes about ½ cup.