We recently bought the Ninja Kitchen System 1100 (dual blender and food processor) and I was so excited to try my hand at making all my own sauces with my snazzy new food processor. After my recent Hollandaise adventures, I decided to try another classic French sauce: aioli. Aioli is a traditional Provençal sauce made of garlic, olive oil and egg. Like mayonnaise, aioli is an emulsion, or a mixture of liquids that are usually immiscible, such as water and oil. Egg yolk can be used as an emulsifier; however, some versions will use mustard as emulsifier to make aioli and omit the egg. Another form of the sauce found in Catalan cuisine is “allioli” which means “garlic and oil” in Catalan. This has a more paste-like consistency and is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle.
After dining at the Spanish tapas restaurant Mercat located in NoHo, I had really wanted to try making my own aioli. The Catalan tapas served there had a plethora of aioli and allioli accompaniments. My favorite was the “Coliflor” dish, which was composed of fried cauliflower with hazelnut aioli, pumpkin seeds and fried leeks. In recreating this dish at home, I decided to serve it with roasted vegetables instead of frying them. I made some Roasted Asparagus and cauliflower, which I cooked in the same manner as the asparagus, plus broiling for couple minutes just to get more color. I didn’t have any leeks or pumpkin seeds to really replicate the dish, but I think the results were still delicious even without those extras.
Hazelnut Aioli (recipe from Kathy Casey, Heart of Washington chef)
Yields: 1 cup
- 1/4 C hazelnuts
- 1/2 T garlic
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 T water
- 1/2 C olive oil
- 2 T hazelnut oil
- Garnish: finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Toast the hazelnuts for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. After they cool, put them in a dishtowel and rub off the skin.
In a food processor, mix the toasted hazelnuts, sugar, salt, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, and egg yolk. Process until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil and hazelnut oil slowly while the food processor is still running. The mixture will slowly emulsify and form a mayonnaise-like consistency. Then add the water. If you aioli is too thick, whisk in a few drops of water. You can make the aioli up to 3 days in advance and keep refrigerated.
To garnish, sprinkle some finely chopped toasted hazelnuts on top of the aioli and accompanying vegetables, such as Roasted Asparagus or Fried Cauliflower like at Mercat. You can dip or drizzle the aioli on top of the veggies and enjoy!