This roasted garlic aïoli served with artichokes was definitely “farm to table”, since we actually went to the farm for the garlic and artichokes and brought them home to our table.
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Aïoli is a traditional Mediterranean sauce made from garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Originating in Provence, France, it is a favorite condiment in many Mediterranean countries, including Spain and Greece. Aïoli is very versatile and can be used as a dip, spread, or marinade. It can be served with fish, poultry, vegetables, or potatoes. It also makes an excellent topping for sandwiches and salads. Aïoli has a mild garlic flavor that is slightly tart and salty, making it the perfect addition to any meal.
INSPIRED BY TRAVELING IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
In the south of France, in the small town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, we found a restaurant with local cuisine. We were served a variety of vegetables that came with aïoli. This is a garlic sauce that was originally made by pounding garlic and salt into a paste in a mortar with a pestle and slowly adding olive oil until it became a sauce. We heard that doing it properly was a bit difficult. A mortar and pestle is used because fresh garlic that is cut with a knife or the blades of a blender tastes different and can be bitter. The blades also seem to make the olive oil taste different. The restaurant in Villefranche-sur-Mer had added an egg yolk as an emulsifier, which made it richer tasting and also easier to keep in suspension. This is not the original method, but it is traditional for this area.
FARM TO TABLE WITH ARTICHOKES AND GARLIC TO MAKE ROASTED GARLIC AÏOLI
Back in California, we made our own version of aïoli to serve with artichokes. We drove up the coast one afternoon and stopped at a farm stand in an artichoke field to get true ”farm to table” artichokes and garlic. Most of the artichokes grown in the United States come from Monterey and Santa Cruz where the climate is similar to the areas around the Mediterranean. These were from the cliffs overlooking the Pacific ocean above Santa Cruz.
ROASTED GARLIC AÏOLI
We steamed the artichokes and made a roasted garlic aïoli.
Instead of making authentic aïoli, we made some changes so we could use an immersion blender. This made it possible to make the sauce in two easy minutes instead of 30 minutes of laborious effort. This could also be done with a blender.
First, we used roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic. It has a wonderful rich taste without the garlic bite. Then, we used avocado oil instead of olive oil to avoid any bitterness. So, this is definitely not authentic aïoli. Next, we made it similar to mayonnaise by adding an egg and lemon juice. For some reason, a whole egg, instead of just the yolk, works better when using an immersion blender. It was also important to have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Making it right in the wide mouth jar we would store it in made it even more convenient. Added a tag and it was ready to store.
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Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography