A bountiful platter of the freshest seasonal vegetables, some raw, some lightly cooked, all ready to dip into a creamy sauce made with freshly harvested local garlic and eggs from the farm — this meal is perfect for a hot, sunny day.
Magnificently named Le Grand Aioli, this dish has its origins in southern France, where it is served as part of a late summer feast celebrating the garlic harvest. The sweet and juicy garlic currently on offer at the local farm stands is a world away from the dry store-bought offerings and truly worthy of a celebration.
This is not a restaurant dish, but one to serve at home with friends and family over a long lazy lunch, or as a prelude to dinner. Much of it can be prepared in advance, freeing you from the stove to enjoy time on the porch or at the beach.
This is not so much a recipe, but more a list of instructions. You can use almost any fresh organic seasonal vegetables, but some work better than others. I like to keep a rustic, just harvested look to everything, to highlight the straight-from-the-farm appeal. The quantities served are up to you, but be sure to add some hard-boiled eggs to your platter.
I cannot stress how fresh the garlic must be. Pick it up from the farm stand and use within a few days. The garlic here was grown by Farmer Ira Haspel, who carefully harvested the largest bulbs and the tenderest vegetables for me at K K’s The Farm in Southold.
Deep Roots Farm in Southold was the first-to-market with fresh dug potatoes, and I happily scooped up a container of their red-skinned variety to add to my haul. Vegetables should be at room temperature and the potatoes are best served warm. Eggs must be of the freshly laid variety, straight from the local farms.
Using your food processor to quickly make the aioli sauce is easy and foolproof. You can halve the quantities, but leftovers in the fridge will enhance a range of dishes including salads, sandwiches and freshly cooked vegetables.
Carrots: Scrub clean and serve whole with the tops on. If using larger carrots slice in half lengthwise
Roasted beets: Scrub clean and trim tops and roots, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 370-degree oven until just tender (about 40 minutes). Cool and leave whole or halve lengthwise if larger
Radishes: Trim and scrub clean. If the tops look fresh, leave them on.
Baby zucchini or squash: Rinse and serve halved or sliced lengthwise
Green beans: Trim stalk ends and blanch in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Plunge into a bowl of iced water to cool, then drain on paper towels
Snow and Snap Peas: (if not available substitute cucumbers and romaine lettuce hearts) Trim and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Plunge into a bowl of iced water to cool, then drain on paper towels
Red skinned or fingerling potatoes: Scrub thoroughly and leave skins on. Boil until tender in lightly salted water. Drain and serve warm.
Cherry tomatoes: Rinsed and dried
Hard boiled eggs: Peeled and cut into halves or quarters
Optional edible flowers and leaves: For garnish. I used nasturtium.
2 large very fresh garlic cloves, peeled
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup safflower or canola oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
Pound the garlic cloves with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until it makes a smooth paste. Place the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, garlic and lemon juice in the food processor and blend together. With the motor running, drizzle in the canola oil in a very slow and steady stream, stopping halfway through to scrape down the sides with a plastic spatula. Repeat the process for the olive oil, before adding the salt. You should have a creamy sauce the consistency of mayonnaise. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little water to thin it down and adjust your quantities of mustard and lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Arrange the vegetables by variety on a large decorative platter. Place a bowl of aioli in the center and garnish with edible flowers or basil sprigs. Enjoy with a large glass of chilled rosé, as you celebrate the bounty of the East End and the glorious days of summer.
Alison Boyd-Savage worked in advertising before running a catering business in her native London. After moving to Long Island, she first settled in Bridgehampton, where she worked as a private chef. Five years later, the quiet beauty of the North Fork prompted a move to Southold. On weekends she loves to entertain, and can be found scouting the local farm stands for seasonal produce and visiting the markets for local fish, meat and eggs. Each month, she now shares some of these dishes on the back page of the East End Beacon.