August 17, 2013

It’s in the Sauce

by Marjan

So true! Just like fashion trends, food has its own style that changes with the times. When I first started cooking, I was captivated and challenged by the variety of French inspired sauces. Using heavy cream, butter, herbs or wine, I learned to elevate any meal. Let’s face it, fish is just fish; but it’s the Béarnaise sauce that makes it memorable.

Of course living in Southern California, everyone is bitten by the salsa bug. Whether it is salsa verde or pico de gallo (and the delicious multitude of variations of each), their versatile capabilities are suitable for dips such as tortilla chips, as a marinade, or finishing sauce for fish, chicken, beef or pork! Most salsas are not only robust with flavor, but also are a healthy alternative for most sauces.

Who can leave out pesto? The multitude of varieties is a cook book onto itself. Herbs, nuts and olive oil are a common base for most pesto sauces. Rich, creamy with enough tang, pesto again can be used as a marinade or accompaniment for any meat, dip, or to turn basic pasta to a complete meal!
For the past couple of years, aioli has picked up the trend. Aioli is a Provencal garlic mayonnaise sauce that gives new meaning to "Mayo Clinic." If you like mayonnaise, traditionally, aioli is a culinary delight paired with crab cakes, crudités and artichoke leaves. Lately, I have tasted a fusion flare to aioli incorporating herbs and spices.

As a savorychick, I thought: ‘how can I create my own aioli variations without whipping eggs and oil; in other words, how can I make a healthy version of this new craze?’


With an abundance of avocados now in season, I decided to take any aioli recipe and substitute avocados instead of mayonnaise (eggs, oil and vinegar). I was pleasantly surprised! It worked!! Not only is it more healthy to use avocados vs. mayonnaise, but it’s easy to achieve the perfect silky, velvety texture and consistency. I also substituted lime juice for vinegar (another acidic product I avoid as much as possible).

The base for my aioli is the same: avocados, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. For Italian inspired recipes, I chose to add garlic, basil or sun-dried tomatoes to the base; for Latin cuisine, use cilantro and chili; for Mediterranean dishes, use mint and cucumber; for Moroccan recipes, use paprika, chili, or any of your favorite spices. The combinations are endless!

Aioli is best served with vegetable, fish, poultry, and beef. Used as a condiment, it can elevate or transform any ordinary dish. Next time you grill any meat or make meatloaf, bring some zing to your recipe. I know with most vegetarian recipes, my version of aioli can bring more taste and flavor without the use of eggs.


Ingredients

1 avocado-ripe
½ cup basil
½ of a small garlic clove
¼ cup lime juice-fresh squeeze
¼ cup olive oil
Optional: sun-dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend the above ingredients in a food processor until a uniform silky consistency is achieved. If you like, remove half of the basil aioli and place ¼ cup of sun-dried tomatoes into the food processor. Then you can have two different sauces.



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