Cheat’s Aïoli And Nineteen Things To Do With It

 “Aioli epitomizes the heat, the power, and the joy of the Provençal sun, but it has another virtue – it drives away flies.”

-Frederic Mistral


Aïoli is a form of garlic mayonnaise which originates from Provence.

Nigella Lawson, in her book, How to Eat, declares she had never heard that mayonnaise could be difficult to make and thus, minus the baggage of fear, was able to make mayonnaise first off without any trouble.

She may be right, but I didn’t have such a protected-from-mayonnaise-making childhood and for me, Life Is Too Short.

Instead, I use a good quality bought mayonnaise and transform it, shamelessly, into aïoli as follows:


Recipe for making cheats’ aïoli

Makes about 240 ml/a cup


  • 180 ml/¾ cup of good quality mayonnaise (I use the excellent Dr Will’s – follow this link to find out why)
  • 5 fat cloves of garlic (if you are able to wrap your garlic bulb in foil and roast for 20 minutes first it will gain a heavenly sweet flavour), crushed with
  • 1 teasp smoked salt
  • 1 lemon – use the juice and garnish with the zest
  • a few grinds of white pepper


Mix all together, and leave to rest for as long as you can, covered in the fridge.


You can also add:

  • parsley
  • a few strands of saffron soaked in a tbsp boiling water
  • membrillo, or quince paste – this makes it taste more middle eastern… or Spanish
  • wasabi – to 2 tbsp aïoli add 1 tsp freshly grated wasabi – good with wasabi butter and steak
  • you can make a sort of smoked aïoli by adding ½ tsp of semi-sweet smoked paprika and using double the amount of smoked, black garlic.


And here are some very surprising additions which I discovered in Monika Linton’s Brindisa, The True Food of Spain:

  • honey
  • dark chocolate
  • squid ink
  • add walnuts and a touch of PX vinegar to the membrillo to transform the aïoli into an aïoli de Nadal – a Catalan Christmas aïoli. Serve with soft, warm hunks of bread at a Christmas Eve vigil. Catalonia is just across the border, and around the corner, from Provence, in Spain.


Uses of aïoli:

  • with croquetas de jamón (Spanish croquettes)
  • with seafood
  • with crab fishcakes
  • a dollop in fish soup
  • with olives
  • with plain boiled Jersey Royal potatoes
  • with chips or wonderful wedge lemon roasted potatoes
  • dip in halved, roasted Brussels spouts
  • with roast asparagus
  • with hamburgers
  • in a tomato sandwich
  • with hard-boiled eggs and shrimps
  • as a dip, with raw vegetables such as courgettes or cauliflower
  • it’s quite good on boiled green beans
  • with roasted aubergine
  • with almost anything roast; fish, beef or lamb
  • with poached chicken (poule au pot)
  • with deep fried mussels
  • serve, as Nieves Barragán Mohacho, of Sabor, does, with griddled spring onions or calçots. Griddle the onions about five minutes each side in hot oil to get them softly charred. Squeeze over a little fresh lemon juice.
  • at Melanie Arnold’s and Margot Henderson’s considered food at the Rochelle Canteen at the ICA, they serve braised cuttlefish (soft as butter!) with fennel and aïoli – heaven!


Braised cuttlefish (soft as butter!) with fennel and aïoli – heaven!



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