Employing the old adage what grows together, goes together this weekend at the market, we prepared a simple, classic French potato salad using the best of farmers' harvests, and a favorite vendor condiment. Find the basic recipe below, and following, additions and adjustments for carnivores and vegans, alike.
Green beans are in season in southern markets this month, so with that morsel in mind, and without a recipe, I set out for the market looking for inspiration for my monthly chef demo. I wanted to keep it simple, seasonal, and market-sustainable; that is I wanted to use only ingredients available at the market. A quick perusal of the always-generous Johnson's Backyard Garden market stall set the tune-- young green beans rubbed shoulders with small, freshly dug potatoes, jewel-red onions, and flat-leaf parsley. The culinary stage was set, as I swung by the booth of Stellar Gourmet, for a sampling of their popular aioli. I had a stash of Texas Hill Country Olive Company extra virgin olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. I was golden.
Here, the basics:
French Bean & Potato Salad with Aioli
Yield: 6 servings
6 small potatoes, quartered
½ pound young green beans, trimmed, sliced
½ cup Stellar Gourmet aioli
1 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
3T extra virgin olive oil
2 small red onions, halved and sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper to taste.
In a large Dutch oven, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water, reduce heat, and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Strain from boiling water and drain. Reserve.
Prepare an ice bath in a large mixing bowl by filling ½ with water, and adding a cup or two of ice cubes. Reserve.
Bring water back to a boil (adding salted water if necessary), and add green beans. Reduce heat to a medium boil and cook beans until just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Shock green beans (to retain bright green color and retard further cooking) by removing from pot with a slotted spoon and placing in ice bath, above. Allow to cool about a minute, then remove and drain on paper toweling.
Prepare dressing by combining aioli, parsley, and olive oil. Mix well, then add potatoes, green beans, and sliced onion, folding gently. Serve chilled, warmed, or room temperature.
Variations on a theme
While potatoes and green beans are the basic building blocks of this dish, a few substitutions, additions, and adjustments can be made to suit individual preference:
- Try a little lemon juice, or the zest of a lemon
- Toss whole garlic cloves or garlic scapes in with the boiling water if you just can't get enough garlic (and need to keep vampires at bay?)
- Add chopped celery, sliced radishes, sliced scallions, olives, cornichon, dill or sweet pickle, or capers to the salad.
- Turn a side into a hearty main dish with the addition of bits of smoked pork or bacon. Try serving with hanks of leftover roasted chicken. And in my mind, shrimp goes with everything.
- Add fresh, chopped herbs like tarragon, thyme, or chervil, or dried herbs such as Herbes de Provence or Fines herbes.
- Substitute alioli for the aioli suggested for a no-egg vegan version.
- Blend your favorite mayonnaise, minced garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a blender or food processor to closely approximate the flavor of aioli.
So what is the difference between alioli and aioli you ask?
Arguments abound, most suggesting it is the same sauce just incorrectly spelled by the offender. Am I just misspelling? Trying to put the difference in words was challenging me, however. Research unearthed the same question on GoodFood.com, and the answer so spot-on, I cede to their authority:
I read recently somewhere that allioli was a sauce from Provence. I always thought it was Catalan. M. Brun
It's amazing how fiercely one can defend a national dish.....Allioli is from a family of oil and garlic-based-emulsion sauces found around the Mediterranean rim. Pliny the Elder, based in Roman Tarragona in the first century AD, observed a sauce made only with garlic, oil and a little vinegar. Tarragona sits in the south of Catalonia. Allioli, pronounced ah-ee-ohlee, is a Catalan emulsion sauce made with pounded garlic, olive oil and a little salt. That's it. In his authoritative book Catalan Cuisine Colman Andrews quotes an old Catalan saying, "allioli made with egg is just fancy mayonnaise". In greater Spain it is called alioli (ah-lee-ohlee) and is often made with egg. Aioli is another garlic and oil emulsion sauce from Provence in France. This velvety garlic mayonnaise is emulsified with raw egg yolk and is famously napped over morsels of fish in the fish stew bourride.
Texas Farmers' Market vendor Stellar Gourmet produces BOTH aioli and alioli so be sure to look them up on your next visit to the market and learn more about the versatility of this classic sauce.
If, by poor fortune, you're nowhere close to a Stellar Gourmet booth, learn how to make your own Aioli or Alioli. The challenge is to find a source that correctly represents the TWO sauces. A good recipe for Aioli can be found here, and a good recipe for Alioli, below.
THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Whew. I got that off my chest.
Alioli | Olive Oil and Garlic Sauce Traditional Recipe: adapted from Spanishfood.com
1 cup extra virgin olive oil6 garlic clovesa pinch of saltmortar (ideally marble) and wooden pestle
Chop the garlic cloves and put in mortar with salt.Using a cruet, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mortar, while stirring the oil and garlic with the other hand, non stop. A thick, uniform paste will form, that will grow as you pour in oil. Remember that you must not stop stirring. You know that Alioli is ready when it has a very thick consistency.
|At the TFM Mueller chef demo, we used award-winning Pogue Mahone pickles, chopped, with a little pickle juice used to thin the alioli dressing. It created a completely different flavor profile, with heavy dill tones that were favored by many visitors used to a mustard-based potato salad.|