The first real grand aioli I experienced was in a village in Provence, where everyone in the town contributed to the feast and we all helped ourselves to the star attraction: a magnificent garlicky dip. Le grand aioli is all about garlic ("aioli," in fact, comes from the French words for garlic and oil).
Although a traditional aioli is made with egg yolks and olive oil, I started mine with olive oil mayonnaise (not the light one) because egg yolks can be an iffy raw ingredient in the summer.
To make this into a "no cooking" meal, I buy lots of prepared ingredients so I never have to turn the stove on. However, you could boil your own potatoes or steam your own vegetables instead buying them or serve lots of raw veggies.
In a pinch, I have used canned beets cut in half and bottled green beans and asparagus. I once made it using beef carpaccio instead of ham and it was a big hit with my guests.
I have provided a lot of ingredient options, but you should pick and choose your favourites.
Adapt the quantities of each ingredient to your taste and requirements; mine are just a guide. Using good local garlic offers a smoother flavour if you can find it. The next day, you can slather leftover aioli on a baguette and top with ham for heaven in a bite.
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic or to taste
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound large cooked shrimp
- 8 ounces cooked ham or barbecued chicken
- 4 roasted artichokes
- 2 bunches baby carrots
- 1 or 2 bunches small radishes
- 2 bunches green onions
- 2 Belgian endives, broken into leaves
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 red or yellow peppers
- 1 thinly sliced fennel bulb
- 1 baguette, sliced
Optional cooked ingredients:
- 6 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 pound steamed new potatoes
- 8 ounces steamed green beans
- 2 pounds steamed mussels
Place mayonnaise in a food processor and add garlic. Slowly add olive oil until incorporated. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Pile aioli into serving dish and place in the centre of a large platter. Surround with seafood, raw vegetables and all the cooked ingredients you want.
Alternatively, give each person an individual bowl of dipping sauce and let them help themselves to the vegetables. Serves 6