Homemade Aioli & Grilled Asparagus

What You'll Need

  • measuring cups and spoons
  • good kitchen knife and clean cutting surface
  • mortar and pestle
  • mixing bowl
  • whisk
  • microplane or zester
  • grill or grill pan
  • cast iron pan
  • plate for serving
  • 2 or 3 small garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp water, plus 2 Tbs for thinning
  • 1 cup olive oil, or sunflower seed oil for a lighter flavor
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • high heat oil for the grill

Aioli, as described by Alice Waters, is “a velvety, luscious, garlicky mayonnaise.” It’s another of those simple foods that, having been around for so long, has inspired debate over exact origins, and the proper, authentic ingredients. In Spain, for instance, aioli is made without egg, but in France, the sauce resembles mayonnaise more closely, as the addition of egg acts as an emulsifier to make a creamy, thicker sauce, and a small amount of mustard may also be added for flavor.

We’re not here to take sides in the debate, but we do know that making aioli with egg makes for a more stable emulsion, so this recipe from Waters’s The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution features egg, front, and center. The results are thick and rich and yes, luscious.

Aioli is a versatile sauce. Thick and creamy, it can be used as a dip for fresh veg, or as an ingredient in chicken, egg, or potato salads. It can be spread on sandwiches as mayonnaise, or thinned, as we show here, to use as a drizzling sauce for anything that needs some of that rich, golden flavor.

Method: For the Aioli

Peel the garlic cloves. If the cloves have begun to sprout, remove the green shoot by pulling it out by the tip; this will make for a better flavor and texture. peel garlic clovesPound them until they form a paste in a mortar and pestle.
pound garlic into paste
Separate an egg from the yolk; drop the yolk into a mixing bowl.
separate egg from yolk
Add about half the garlic and half a teaspoon of water.
add waterwhiskMix well with a whisk.
Measure about a cup of olive oil into a vessel with a pour spout.
As you whisk, slowly dribble small amounts of the oil into the egg mixture.


whisk eggAs the egg yolk begins to absorb the oil, the sauce will thicken and become lighter in color. Continue whisking, and add the oil steadily until the full portion is incorporated, and the sauce is thick and creamy. Yes, by now this is a LOT of whisking. Keep going!
sauce becomes creamyWhisk in a squeeze of lemon, if desired, to finish. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired with more salt or garlic. Garnish with lemon zest.
garnish with lemon
The aioli can be used as is or thinned to a drizzling sauce. As with any sauce containing raw eggs, aioli should be stored in the refrigerator. It’s best made fresh, in small batches, as it tastes best on the day it is made. 
To make the drizzling sauce, whisk in about 2 tablespoons of water, to thin sauce to the desired consistency.
add lemon

For the Asparagus

Select fresh spears of asparagus. Look for tight tips, bright color, and firm stalks without wrinkles.
fresh asparagusWash the asparagus, then snap off the paler ends of the stalk, where it naturally breaks at the tough fibers.
snap asparagusHeat a grill pan over medium heat. As the grill surface warms, brush it with a high heat oil. (No grill brush handy? Use a carrot frond.) Of course, you can do this on a barbecue outside, too.
place on grillPlace the asparagus on the grill. Use a bacon press or a cast iron pan to weight the asparagus firmly on the grill.
use cast iron for weightCook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until grill marks appear on the spears.
Flip or roll asparagus to the other side, and repeat.
flip for grill marksTransfer asparagus to a plate, and season with fresh lemon juice and/or zest, and salt to taste.
seasonDrizzle the aioli over the asparagus.
drizzle aioliEnjoy!

Over to You

It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food more often. Stop by and say hello on FacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old-fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.