I hope that all will forgive me for posting photo of hens and chickens succulents bursting their first spring blooms instead of my herbed aioli, around which the post centers. My aioli is shy and does not photograph well, whilst the pretty little plants did.
March is one of those months when vendors at the farmer’s market appear so bored with their produce offering that they can’t look at the potatoes or parsnips while bagging and they post signs saying “ripe strawberries here soon, we promise.”
And I feel their pain. However, while I’m waiting for the cute little favas and delicate green beans to be released in the markets, I have something that I do every March to tide myself over. I make a delicious batch of herbed aioli (garlic mayonnaise) and feature the very dip-worthy veggies of late winter and early spring on my dinner table. Then I invite friends over and politely suggest what wine they bring (see below) to bring out the bright aioli flavors.
Quick notes: Although I thoroughly respect those who use a mortar and pestle to make their aioli, I have neither have the patience or the virtue required to partake such an arduous task. I use a food processor or have my husband whisk in the oil by hand. Also notable is that I use raw eggs in the aioli. I always do this and have not yet had a problem, but I use the absolute freshest eggs available, and buy from a reputable company.
Pulse one room temperature egg yolk in a food processor until yolk is broken. Add two teaspoons fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, two cloves crushed garlic and pulse for three seconds. Begin to add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a very slow stream. By the end of this recipe, you will have used a full cup of olive oil. After the first two tablespoons are thoroughly blended in the food processor mixture, continue adding the remainder of the cup of olive oil, pausing after every ounce or so to make sure that the oil is thoroughly incorporated in the mixture before adding more. After mixture is emulsified, add half a bunch each of roughly chopped fresh tarragon and chervil leaves, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
What to dip: steamed artichokes, blanched asparagus and broccoli spears, fresh radish and fennel slices, hard-boiled egg slices, and even seared and sliced chicken breast (if vegetarians don’t protest). Or basically anything else you favor that won’t fall apart in the aioli.
With the fresh vegetables and lush olive oil goodness served on aioli night, a racy, high mineral wine with bright acidity is the way to go. In the realm of whites, I’m all for a lime and guava laced New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like the 06 Blick from Marlborough. Another white that would pair nicely with aioli and veggies would be the Domaine de Peyreficade Picpoul de Pinet, whose snappy green apple, lime, and juicy stone fruit flavors of the grape keeps it as light and fresh as an aioli dinner. Then, becauseaioli is after all, a spring thing, I’d choose the 07 peach, and raspberry scented Copain Primtemps Grenache and Pinot Nor Rosé. That’s about as dark as I like it paired with a spring aioli dinner, but as I know some of you are red-centered, may I suggest the Wild Hog Pinot Noir or Scurati Nero D’Avola. They both have the perfect combination of juicy red fruits and acidity to fare well with aioli and fresh veggies.
Signing off, with three cheers in honor of garlic mayo