I love shopping. Finding new things to buy on late-night grocery runs (well, when I wasn’t in bed all the time) and online is so exciting to me, but when it comes to food, homemade is almost always better than store-bought. (See example: Mom and my recent packaged Pad Thai taste test video.) 

One thing that most of you probably have in your fridge right now but have never made is mayonnaise, the condiment that can do it all. It can be a spread for nightstand sandwiches! It can be the base for a creamy, bubbly, three-cheese lobster-artichoke dip! It can even be used to make chocolate cake! (Not my recipe…but Google it. It’s a real thing.) I learned how to make mayonnaise in cooking school, and one of my favorite styles is aioli, which is the Spanish version that’s richer, thicker, and garlickier. It may sound intimidating to make your own aioli (aka fancy mayo!) at home, but I promise it’s actually pretty easy. It’s also super customizable. Like things on the spicier side? Add some Sriracha, Cholula, or hot sauce of your choice. Want it more garlicky? Double the cloves! The opportunities are truly endless. (Just make sure to have mouthwash nearby—you’re gonna need it.)

Aioli translates to “mayonnaise seasoned with garlic,” but it’s much, much more than that. It’s heaven-sent sauce. When the garlic, olive oil, and eggs are combined, these ingredients emulsify (aka combine fat with water) to create a luscious, creamy, and tangy sauce. Tip: if you want your sauce even more decadent, try only using the egg yolk. I like to add some acidity, preferably sherry vinegar or lemon to brighten up the flavor. And if you don’t have an electric mixer, feel free to add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk by hand. It’ll be your arm workout for the…month.

For the Aioli:

  • Makes: 1 ½ cups
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (lemon juice works in a pinch as well)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the egg, 2 tablespoons of the oil, mustard, vinegar, garlic, and salt in a blender or the small bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the rest of the oil in a very thin stream (this should take at least a minute) to create a thick, mayonnaise-like texture. Season with more salt to taste.
  2. Note: If the aioli “breaks” during the emulsification process, no worries. Transfer it to a cup, then add another egg and a teaspoon of mustard to the empty blender and blend. Slowly drizzle the broken aioli back in while the motor is running to emulsify. Viola!

For the Crispy Fingerling Potatoes:

  1. Scrub 1 ½ pounds fingerlings, then halve them lengthwise and toss them in 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. 
  2. Heat a heavy un-oiled baking sheet to 425°F for 10 minutes, then use oven mitts to remove the baking sheet and arrange the potatoes, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast until the underside is crisp, 15 minutes.
  3. Flip and roast an additional 5-10 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper.

1. Dynamite Scallops

Like me and John, some things just go together. The combination of spicy mayonnaise and scallops is one of them. Swap in homemade aioli for store-bought mayo in this recipe for garlicky goodness. What makes this recipe so unbelievably tasty is the aioli isn’t added at the end, but instead is baked on top of the scallops. The finished product is juicy, melt-in-your-mouth scallops submerged in a warm bath of spicy, creamy deliciousness.

2. Beef Skewers

This recipe originally calls for tahini sauce, but you can easily swap it out for some aioli. I love how the garlickness complements the flavor of the beef marinade without overpowering the flavor of the dish.

3. Crab Cake Sandwiches

I’m the type of person who looooooves to dress crab cakes with LOTS of sauce. For this aioli, try adding some Sriracha or diced jalapeños that will give the mild chunks of crab a bold, spicy flair!

4. Patatas Bravas

Arguably the most classic combination, this Spanish dish is another way to say “potatoes covered in aioli” and I LOVE IT. Besides, what’s a giant plate of crispy, golden fries without a pool of aioli to swim in? 

If you want to keep things plain and simple, serve some fresh crudités  with a grand aioli (a fancy way to say a dipping sauce for veggies) and enjoy!