This all began when Dave brought home some ground lamb to cook over the fire pit in the back yard a couple of weeks ago. He had volunteered to make dinner (he’d caught wind that I was probably going to offer up scrambled eggs and toast), and so when he returned from the store, he only had one small request — could I just make a simple rosemary aioli? Commence my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Does every exhausted spouse only have to make aioli? But he’s maybe just a little spoiled when it comes to menu requests, and I’m a total sucker for trying something new in the kitchen. At least we all know what we are.
He set to work making killer lamb burgers, and I started an aioli search on the web to see what I could find. I quickly narrowed it down to a recipe from Ina Garten — I fully agree with her philosophy of using good ingredients and letting them shine in her recipes. Of course, I needed to make my aioli with rosemary, but I loved her idea of using saffron. Aioli calls for raw egg yolks, which I’m all for, except, I’ve been having “issues” with undercooked eggs lately. SO SAD. I couldn’t just leave them out though. It wouldn’t be aioli without the rich, fatty, creaminess that an egg yolk offers. And that’s when I decided to pull out the labneh. That was the absolute trick. Suddenly, I had THE aioli. Huge flavor, super creamy, and no tummy aches. It was so delicious over the lamb burgers… and a couple of days later, we had to find a reason to use up the leftovers, so we grilled portobellos, zucchini, onions, and halloumi and slathered the aioli over that. Amazing. We repeated that one again over this past weekend, but with gorgonzola this time (that was another win), always topping these with fresh arugula. Which brings me to yesterday. Wild caught King Salmon was fresh off the boat (and in our land-locked case, airplane) and I had visions of the salmon broiled together with veggies, on a brioche bun, with lots aioli. So, I am sharing this with you and I’m telling you, GO MAKE THIS NOW. And then over the course of the week, tell me how else you used your aioli!
Rosemary Saffron Aioli
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s “Fingerling Potatoes and Aioli,” by Stephanie Kunstle
Notes: With regards to Ina’s recipe, I obviously added rosemary, and doubled the lemon zest, and used much less olive oil…. Love Ina, but I think this is the flavor and texture you want to complete your aioli happiness. If you want to replicate this sandwich, I used 6 0z. salmon filets, rubbed in olive oil and salted, then broiled on high about 6 inches from the broiler for 5 minutes. I also broiled zucchini sliced thick (about 1/2 inch) and sliced red onion for about 7-8 minutes (both tossed beforehand in olive oil and salt). Just put them all on a big baking sheet, and pull the salmon out at 5 minutes and continue the veggies for a bit longer, checking to make sure they don’t burn to a crisp!
- 1 mounded cup of torn white bread pieces, crust removed (great use for a day or several day old boule)
- 2 Tbsp. Champagne or white wine vinegar (I’ve used Cava and Sauternes vinegars)
- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2-3 sprigs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 and 1/2 Tbsp after chopping)
- 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
- 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 heaping Tbsp. labneh, or if you can’t find labneh, try substituting a plain, whole milk Greek yogurt (it must be a strained yogurt, like Greek yogurt, or it will have too much liquid)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (I just do 8 cracks on the pepper mill and call it good)
- 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
- Tear the bread into small pieces, place in a small bowl, and pour the vinegar over it. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, rosemary, saffron, lemon zest, lemon juice, Labneh, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor (I use a mini-prep size, but if you have a big processor, use the smallest bowl available). Add the bread that has been soaked for 5 minutes, and puree into a paste. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and process until the aioli is smooth has the consistency of a thick sour cream.
- Now…. use this as a spread or dip for just about anything! Ok, maybe not for chocolate chip cookies, but you hear me. And then, would you please-o-please-o leave a comment about what you did with it? I have so many sneaky readers, but I love hearing your cooking stories, so share if you have a moment. Thanks, friends!