Grand aioli is summer grazing with a French twist! This healthy Mediterranean platter is anchored by a garlicky dip and surrounded by crisp veggies, shellfish, halved eggs, and some crusty bread. Your dinner just got bumped up to first class.
what is a grand aioli?
Grand aioli is a Provençal tradition. Aioli is the deliciously thick garlicky sauce invented in the South of France, and a grand aioli is a platter style meal with all sorts of fresh ‘dippables’ surrounding the aioli like crisp veggies, eggs, fish, etc. It’s a gorgeous, elegant, and healthy way to eat and a perfect spring/summer meal for casual entertaining. Serve it artfully arranged on a large platter and provide small plates so everyone can help themselves. Think of it as an exploded salad Niçoise, which is a similar platter style meal, done with tuna.
Note: a grand aioli platter doesn’t need to be a fancy affair ~ a pared down version works perfectly for a casual summer family dinner, preferably eaten outdoors. Or have a couple of friends over and do a petite aioli!
what you’ll need to make a grand aioli platter
Think of it as the summer equivalent of a fabulous charcuterie board. An aioli platter consists of raw and cooked veggies, hard cooked eggs, fish, and shellfish, but there’s lots of room for delicious improv.
- I have an easy (30 seconds!) aioli recipe here which you can make with an immersion blender. Homemade aioli is fresh and so much more flavorful than any commercial store bought version. It can be varied in tons of different ways, but here I’ve chosen to add just a touch of golden saffron threads for an authentic flavor.
- baby vegetables
- suggested: baby carrots, mini cucumbers, mini bell peppers, green or wax beans, thin asparagus, pea pods, beets, radishes, new potatoes, celery, cherry tomatoes, etc.
- some sort of small dense lettuce cut in wedges is traditional on a grand aioli platter. You can also use endive.
- hard cooked eggs
- There’s something about hard cooked eggs dipped in aioli that is just sooooo good!
- shellfish such as shrimp and mussels.
- salmon and cod are also common additions.
- crusty slices of bread
- the bread adds some welcome carbs to the meal, and is equally wonderful dipped in aioli.
- herbs and lemon wedges for garnish.
other ingredients to consider
It’s simple: imagine anything that would taste delicious dipped into a creamy garlicky bath. If you can imagine it…do it! You can follow my formula in the recipe, or go rogue with your own delicious assortment.
If you don’t do shellfish I think thin slices of steak or roast beef would be amazing. Cooked fish like salmon and cod is traditional on a Provençal platter although I went with finger friendly shrimp and mussels.
Other spring/summer veggies to consider are summer squash, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, broccolini, spring onions, and fennel.
tips to keep in mind for grand aioli
Raw or steamed veggies? Many veggies like cucumber and carrots are best raw, but others like asparagus and green beans benefit from a quick steaming to tenderize them. Drop them in boiling water briefly and then into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain on paper towels.
Can you make grand aioli ahead? A grand aioli is a celebration of fresh summer bounty, but there are things you can do ahead to help make it more convenient. The aioli sauce can be made a day ahead. All of the other elements can be prepped several hours ahead, but be sure to keep prepped veggies under damp paper towels and plastic wrap to keep them fresh. Do not cut eggs until ready to serve, and I recommend assembling the platter shortly before serving.
What wine to serve? Rosé is the traditional wine to serve with a grand aioli. Choose a French rosé, if possible, for maximum authenticity!
Serving ware essentials A large platter and individual plates works best. Grand aioli is basically finger food, so no need for utensils. Provide a spoon for the aioli so people can spoon it onto their plates and graze. My pretty blue and white dishes are from Caskata.
- large platter, mine is a 12×16 oval
- 2/3 cup olive oil Note: I recommend using a mild or 'pure' olive oil as opposed to an extra virgin which can make your aioli too strong or even bitter tasting.
- 1 large egg Note: use a pasteurized egg if you are worried about consuming raw eggs.
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- pinch salt
- a pinch of saffron, optional
grand aioli platter ~ amounts are just suggestions
- 8 slices toasted bread
- 12 cooked mussels
- 12 cooked shrimp
- 3 cooked baby golden beets, peeled, and quartered
- 4 cooked baby potatoes, halved
- 2 cooked eggs, halved or quartered
- 8-10 raw or lightly steamed string beans or yellow wax beans, trimmed
- 8-10 raw or lightly steamed thin asparagus, trimmed
- 4 raw baby carrots, trimmed and peeled
- 2 baby cucumber cut into spears
- 1 raw chioggia beet (candy cane beet) peeled and thinly sliced
- 10 radishes, any type, trimmed and left whole, or halved.
- 3 mini bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 small head radicchio, cut into thin wedges Note: substitute endive leaves
- To make the aioli, put the egg, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and saffron, if using, in a small container that just fits the head of your immersion blender. Place the head of the blender at the bottom of the jar and blend. When the mixture emulsifies and becomes thick wiggle the blender head around a bit to get all the oil incorporated. Taste the aioli to adjust the lemon juice or salt. Refrigerate until chilled. Note: this can be made a day ahead.
grand aioli platter
- If you would like to prep your ingredients ahead of time many of the veggies can be prepped and kept under a damp paper towel and plastic wrap in the refrigerator the morning before you are planning to serve. The eggs can be cooked at this time (do not slice in half yet) and the shellfish as well.
- When you are ready to serve, place the aioli in a small bowl on your platter. Arrange your veggies, fish, and crusty bread in groups around the dip.
- Serve asap while everything is nice and cold. Provide small plates and a spoon for the aioli so people can 'graze'.