Traveling the world through cuisine

Relaxing in Provence

Marseille, France

As a country, France has so much to offer in terms of history, culture, and especially cuisine. Paris is the mainstay must-see spot when traveling, but if I had to pick a region as a secondary must-go, it would be the southeastern region known as Provence.

Provence in my book is like a melding of French culture with the Mediterranean goodness that comes from the longstanding influences of Spain, Italy, Greece, and even the former Ottoman Empire. The cuisine is full of big flavors balanced in light meals ideal for the warm climate. Plenty of fresh seafood and good vegetation highlighted with Mediterranean staples such as garlic and olives.

I’ve already had you try one Provencal staple on this site, the summertime vegetable stew known as Ratatouille. Now we’re going to make a simple, but very traditional mainstay to Provencal cuisine. A garlic paste served with many meals called aioli (“ahy-oh-lee”)

Aioli is a prime example of an emulsion. It’s a thick paste made by thoroughly mixing ingredients together that really never dissolve into one another. In this case, garlic and olive oil. The two ingredients are traditionally mashed together in a mortar and pestle until a greenish paste is formed, then served with seafood or vegetables.

A more modern version calls for eggs, which will lighten the color to a yellowish white. Let’s look at both methods of making this condiment:

Traditional Aioli

Traditional Aioli

Ingredients

  • At least 10 cloves to a whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of olive oil
  • A few drops of lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the garlic cloves into a mortar and mash them with the pestle until a pulp forms.
  2. Add in the olive oil a drop at a time, continuing to mash and grind the mixture until it thickens more.
  3. Add in the olive oil more liberally and continue mashing/mixing until a smooth paste is obtained.
  4. Finish your aioli with the lemon juice and a pinch or two of salt.

Quick Notes

I would strongly advise using a mortar and pestle to make aioli. You can use a food processor, but you might not get the thickness you would want. In many ways, you’re literally making mayonnaise, so you want that kind of consistency.

If your aioli looks green, don’t worry. It’s only natural when going traditional. If you wish for a more yellowish or white aioli, then see the modern recipe in Variations.

Variations

While the traditional aioli is quite healthy, this more modern version creates the creamy white result most connoisseurs crave. Plus you can use a food processor to make it:

Ingredients

  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the garlic, salt, and egg yolks into a food processor. Blend until ingredients are mixed fully.
  2. Add in the olive oil in a thin stream as the food processor continues mixing.
  3. Finish with the lemon juice and some pepper to taste.

You can flavor traditional or modern aioli any way you desire. Add in some cayenne pepper for fire, or mix in chopped tomatoes, mustard, or even fresh herbs.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally in France, aioli is served with fish or vegetables. You could also serve it with chicken, potatoes, or even beef. Aioli is wonderful for sandwiches as well.

Adding in a little Red Gold

I’ll confess there was an ulterior motive to my interest in aioli. I had not considered it until Red Gold® Tomatoes contacted me about a recent ad campaign that involved mixing Red Gold brand tomatoes with light mayonnaise to make a more “bastardized” aioli.

While the gift pack was well-appreciated, I mainly liked how it did push me to dive into this tradition, and thus learn to make aioli as they do in France. I'll also say I did like the quality of Red Gold Tomatoes, and found their modified idea on aioli worked nicely on sandwiches, wraps, and burritos. Here’s how they do it:

Red Gold® Easy Tomato Aioli

Red GoldĀ® Easy Tomato Aioli

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained

Instructions

Gently mix together the ingredients without destroying the tomatoes.

Quick Notes

Make sure to drain the tomatoes, or else you'll have soup.

Mix gently, so you won't destroy the tomato pieces.

Variations

Red Gold® came up with a variety of aioli you could make by mixing their variety of canned tomatoes.  Just follow these recipes, using the same process.

Garlic Aioli

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Garlic & Olive Oil, drained

Lime & Cilantro Aioli

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes W/Lime Juice & Cilantro, drained

Roasted Garlic Aioli

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 10 large garlic cloves, roasted and mashed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Garlic & Olive Oil, drained

Green Chili Aioli

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Red Gold® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Green Chilies, drained

Serving Suggestions

Spread it on sandwiches or wraps, use it as a dip, or even make some pasta dishes with it.

Tags: French, Spanish, garlic, olive oil, tomato

comments powered by Disqus