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The “Feed Your People” cookbook is full of meals perfect for big, happy groups, and this French-inspired feast contributed by Georgeanne Brennan is a great example. She’s owned a house in Provence for years, where every summer, the entire town hosts a grand aioli, a celebration that ends with a feast featuring the area’s famous garlic aioli in huge quantities. It’s served with simply prepared steamed vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and salt cod, and is a party comprised of hundreds of people. This smaller-scale version stars a roasted side of salmon (a nod to the author’s home base near the Pacific in California), but otherwise keeps to tradition—there’s also an abundance of fresh beets, green beans, and new potatoes, and a great bowl of luscious aioli to dip everything in. Add some fresh bread and plenty of rosé and you have a crowd-pleasing meal perfect for eating outside when the weather is fine, a true celebration of summer, seafood, and good company.
Variations: You can use whatever vegetables are in season and look best, including cherry tomatoes, radishes, sugar snap peas, artichokes, sliced raw fennel, or blanched cauliflower.
Notes: Aioli calls for only a few ingredients and can “break” (or separate, rather than emulsify into a smooth substance) if not whipped properly. The key to getting it to set up is patience, and good arm strength. If your mayonnaise breaks, you may be adding the oil too quickly. Make sure to drip it into the egg yolks slowly, in a steady series of drips more than an actual pour—and feel free to call on a friend to help; one person can whip while the other drips. After all, it is a communal meal. However, if you’re pressed for time, you can make it in a food processor (see the recipe for instructions). Either way, combining olive oil with grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil) makes for a lighter-flavored aioli; if you have a very strongly flavored olive oil, you may want to replace up to half or more of the total amount called for with a neutral oil to lighten the taste.
Make Ahead: Georgeanne makes this simple meal the day of serving so everything retains its freshness, but the vegetables can be prepped a day in advance and then cooked the day of the party. The vegetables and salmon should be cooked no more than 1 hour in advance of serving. Cover them to keep them moist and bright looking. The aioli can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 hours. If you need guidance on boiling eggs, check out our Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs recipe.
Serving: A grand aioli is best when served on a long table with the food down the middle in multiple mismatched bowls and platters. Allow one bowl of aioli and a platter of vegetables for every four or five guests. French bread and glasses of rosé round out the meal.
To cook the salmon:
To cook the vegetables while the salmon bakes:
Excerpted from Feed Your People: Big-Batch, Big-Hearted Cooking and Recipes to Gather Around. Copyright © 2018 by Leslie Jonath, recipe by Georgeanne Brennan. Reprinted with permission by powerHouse Books. Photography by Molly DeCoudreaux.
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