Carla Lalli Music, kitchen dynamo and author of the new book 'Where Cooking Begins,' shares her recipe and an epic crudité tray to serve with it.

By Carla Lalli Music 
May 01, 2019
© 2019 Gentl and Hyers

The first time I heard of, let alone made, le grand aïoli was when I was in culinary school. I remember being floored by the revelation that a bowl of homemade garlic mayonnaise could anchor a glorious summer feast that you eat with your hands and share with friends. (Related: How to Create the Best Cheese Board Ever)

Twenty years later and it hasn’t lost its appeal. I like to include a combination of raw and steamed vegetables for variety. You can keep it simple, with a few types of vegetables, eggs, and some fish, or go nuts with whatever.  

It all starts with an early morning trip to the Saturday farmers market. I buy what looks best and is at its peak, like carrots in different colors or a variety of radishes, then build around it. I end up with a big platter of vibrant vegetables, plus eggs and fish or chicken, and add some homemade aioli for dipping.

This meal doesn’t require a ton of work, but it’s so beautiful. I prepare everything that needs to be cooked the same way—I steam anything crunchy, like asparagus and snap peas, and then steam the eggs and fish or chicken. I serve vegetables like cucumbers raw with a little salt and lemon juice. Then I make the aioli.

I often end up with too much food. That’s when I call friends over whose kids are the same ages as my two boys, 15 and 9. We set everything out with a loaf of bread and some rosé or prosecco. That’s just the best way to eat.

Garlic Aioli Recipe + Crudité Tray

Makes: 8 to 10 servings 


For the aioli:

  • 1 cup grapeseed or peanut oil  
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard  
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated  
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper   

For the platter:

  • 3 to 4 pounds mixed exquisite bounty of vegetables for steaming, such as sugar snap peas, haricots verts, asparagus, small carrots, Romano beans, small fingerling potatoes (unpeeled), cleaned and trimmed  
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 pounds skinless salmon or cod fillet
  • 3 to 4 pounds mixed colorful array of vegetables to serve raw, such as baby lettuces, icicle or Easter Egg radishes, cherry tomatoes, Persian (mini) cucumbers, fennel, sweet bell peppers, celery, cleaned and trimmed  
  • Flaky sea salt, cracked black pepper, lemon wedges, olive oil, and 2 baguettes, for serving   


To make the aioli:

  1. In a measuring glass with a spout, combine oils.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together whole egg, egg yolk, mustard, garlic, and 2 tablespoons vinegar
until completely blended.
  3. Whisking constantly, drizzle oil mixture into egg mixture drop by drop (literally), until the mixture starts to thicken and looks very smooth. This is an indication that you have an emulsion and it’s safe to add the oil a little bit more quickly. Continue whisking and pouring oil in a thin stream until all of the oil has been incorporated and mayonnaise is smooth and thickened. If at any point aioli feels too thick to whisk, loosen
it with a tablespoon of water and carry on.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and more vinegar.
  5. Cover aioli and refrigerate until ready to serve.   

To make the platter:

  1. In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring a few inches of water to
a simmer.
  2. Working with one type of vegetable at a time since cooking times will vary, add vegetable to steamer basket, cover, and cook until crisp-tender: 2 minutes for sugar snap peas; 3 minutes for green beans, wax beans, and asparagus; 5 minutes for carrots and Romano beans; and 10 to 12 minutes for small whole potatoes.
  3. Transfer vegetables to at least two large rimmed baking sheets lined with paper towels to cool as they are done. Top off water in pot as needed between batches.
  4. When cool, cover vegetables with damp paper towels and then a layer
of plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to
3 hours.  
  5. With water at a simmer, place eggs in steamer, cover, and cook 8 minutes for hard-boiled eggs with tender whites and creamy, gently set yolks. Plunge into a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain eggs and refrigerate until ready to serve.  
  6. Season the salmon with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, place in steamer basket, and cook until just opaque at the center, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.  
  7. Meanwhile, prep the raw vegetables. Separate adorable baby lettuce leaves, then wash and spin dry. Leave small radishes and baby white turnips whole, with good-looking tops attached (or trimmed, if you prefer). Slice larger radishes into 1⁄2-inch wedges or thin rounds. Halve tomatoes and small cucumbers. Cut fennel, sweet bell peppers, and celery into thin spears. Cover and chill.  
  8. To serve, arrange vegetables and salmon on a large platter or platters and tuck lemon wedges around edge. Divide aioli among three or four bowls with spoons, and set out for passing. Peel and halve the eggs and season with flaky salt and cracked pepper; arrange on platters. Squeeze some lemon juice over everything and drizzle with oil; season with flaky salt and cracked pepper and serve with baguettes.  

Recipe reprinted from Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes To Make You a Great Cook. Copyright © 2019 by Carla Lalli Music. Photographs copyright © 2019 Gentl and Hyers. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. 

Shape Magazine, May 2019 issue


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