It’s the last day in April but it feels like mid-summer in LA, or what we call fire season. Fires are raging. You can feel the pollution in your chest and it’s just too damn hot to cook. But I have to. I invited a couple friends I haven’t had over for all too long over for a mid-week dinner. I could opt for a giant “garbage” salad (my mom’s term), but the fridge is filled with Spring via the Santa Monica Farmers Mkt. So I opted to make one of my favorite meals. Le Grand Aioli. Which just means lots of veggies and some protein, some cooked, some raw and a great dipping sauce, aioli. Only in my case I decided to make three dipping sauces: aioli, romesco and pistachio pesto. The great thing about this impressive Provençal dish is that it can be as grand or petit as you have patience for. As you see from the photo, I decided that a whole cauliflower would be the centerpiece. You can use anything you want. Suggestions are below. What I happened to have in the house is in italics.
Cooked or Cuit
big eye tuna: from my fish CSA this week. poached in olive oil
cooked chicken (yes, even a purchased rotisserie bird)
hard cooked pastured eggs, peeled and cut in half
cauliflower: cooked to your liking (I love super soft cauliflower that becomes a puree when you touch it with your fork, so I cook mine whole in the pressure cooker)
roasted carrots: tops trimmed, cooked on parchment at 400 degrees with a bit of olive oil
baby artichokes: Trimmed and boiled until tender. When properly cooked they squeek when you chew them.
thick Zuckerman’s asparagus: cooked like the roasted carrots (see above)
blanched green beans
grilled spring onions
Raw or Cru
radishes (I used sliced watermelon radishes, so pretty)
sugar snap peas