Aioli is a traditional Provencal sauce that is often used as a dip or dressing. It is a strong garlic mayonnaise that is easy to make at home from just egg yolks, olive oil, salt, and plenty of garlic. It is a fine accompaniment to many dishes, especially fish and steamed vegetables. In fact, there is a traditional Provencal meal made from those ingredients; it is called simply Le Grand Aioli. It's a beautiful feast, and an easy one.
In the winter, while I embrace the chill and think of cold-weather cooking, Annette's thoughts wing their way to sunny Provence. Our Grand Aioli was her idea, and it brought us a splash of summer sunshine on the first of February!
Annette steamed the vegetable platter, which by tradition should number at least six, plus hard-boiled eggs. We had:
- Steamed carrots
- Boiled young potatoes
- Cape cod turnip
- Steamed fennel
- Steamed leek (I know - that's only five. Keep reading!)
- Hard-boiled eggs
That colorful platter was joined at the table by a platter of cooked and cut salt cod, another traditional part of Le Grand Aioli.
Of course you can't have a Grand Aioli without the aioli, so Richmond and I made that down the hill in my kitchen. Aioli needs no cooking, so my stove was never turned on for this whole delicious feast.
Meanwhile, back up the hill at Chez Talbot, Annette had steamed up vegetable number 6, a beautiful cauliflower. She cut out the top florets to form a bowl, from which we served the golden Aioli - paired with a chilled rose it sure was grand!
Le Grand Aioli was both delicious and easy to prepare, and the leftovers are fine the next day. It is a beautiful way to prepare the vegetables, too. We agreed that it would make a fine picnic lunch or a summer spread out on the beach. We'll definitely do it again!