Friday, February 18, 2011

Four Vegan Aiolis

Aioli is a sauce that originated from the Provence region of France and is traditionally made from garlic, salt, and oil using a mortar and pestle. The word aioli comes from the French word for garlic, ail, though it is also popular in the Catalan region of Spain, where it is called allioli (from all i oli, Catalan for garlic and oil). Because of its popularity in that region, it is commonly served alongside many tapas dishes. Although purists insist on making this emulsion strictly using garlic and oil, many now use egg to allow for easier mixing. However, many purist chefs pride themselves on their aioli-making techniques and turn their noses down on egg-containing aiolis, calling them “garlic mayonnaise”.

Now, we’re not at all purist aioli-makers, but we WERE interested in finding an easy-to-make aioli that is vegan (and obviously, by virtue does not contain egg) and that didn’t require us to grind garlic until our arms fell off.

Luckily, we happened to stumble across just the right blog post, courtesy of VeganGrandma, who included her recipes for vegan aioli as part of a larger recipe. We decided to try all the combinations it described in her post; we did both the quick & easy recipe, which just required using store-bought vegan mayonnaise as a base (pictured above in the background), as well as the homemade cashew recipe (in the foreground). We made both recipes in the traditional garlic flavor (pictured above on the left) as well as the tomato alternative (on the right). We just followed the directions as listed, and everything worked great! Even the made-from-scratch recipe was almost as easy as the quick method; it just required a few more ingredients.

From the picture, it's easy to see that the cashew aiolis were thicker, heartier sauces that retained their shape fairly well. On the other hand, the mayo-based aiolis were definitely more liquidy and runny. We decided we generally liked the taste and texture of the homemade, cashew-based aioli better, but the quick & easy method also works in a pinch! Of course, if purists shun egg-based aiolis, I’m sure they would also shun cashew-based ones.... Good thing we’re not purists, and this works well for our purposes! We'll definitely be using both these recipes again in the future!

I’ve recopied the recipes below. Enjoy!

Two Ways to Make Vegan Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)
Courtesy of VeganGrandma

The Quick & Easy Aioli
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
1 cup vegan mayonnaise

Place ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

A Made-From-Scratch Aioli:Vegan Cashew Aioli
makes 1 cup

½ cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (O.K., sometimes I cheat and use bottled.)
¼ cup water
½ cup canola oil (or any neutral tasting oil)
pinch of salt
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (use more or less depending how garlicky you like it)

Place the cashews into a blender. Process until the cashews are ground as finely as you can get them.
Add the lemon juice and water and process until smooth. Add the oil slowly, and process until the sauce is thick and creamy. Add the salt and process a minute longer.

Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed.

Tomato aioli: replace garlic with 2 tablespoons tomato paste.

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