A beautiful golden aioli, fragrant with saffron, lemon, and garlic, is the star of this simple appetizer.
By Maya Parson
Aioli is typically associated with Provence, but the sauce (a garlicky cousin of homemade mayonnaise) is found throughout Southern Europe, from France to Spain and Italy. This saffron version is fantastic with tomatoes on bread, but is also a lovely dip for crudités or potatoes. It also makes a great condiment for seafood (fish cakes!) and is a fun twist on hollandaise sauce–try it with a fried egg on crusty bread and you won’t be sorry!
- 1 Tablespoon hot water
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- ½ cup canola oil or mild-flavored olive oil
- 1 egg yolk (preferably from a large, farm fresh egg)
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon minced garlic, approx.
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, approx.
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 baguette, sliced into approximately 24 thin rounds
- 3-4 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
- Fresh basil and sea salt for garnish
- Soak saffron threads in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Strain saffron liquid into a wide-mouth pint-size canning jar, pressing threads to extract as much of the saffron essence as you can.
- Add egg yolk, lemon juice, oil.
- Using immersion blender, blend just until mixture thickens.
- Add salt and garlic to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.
- Spread each piece of bread with 1-2 teaspoons of aioli. Top with a piece of tomato, a sprinkle of pine nuts and salt. Garnish with basil sprigs.
Maya Parson entered the world of food journalism as an ice cream taste tester for her local newspaper at age eight. She later pursued a career in cultural anthropology – happily feasting on farm cheeses, fresh corn tortillas and a lot of rice and beans during her field research in Central America. Maya eventually settled in the other “central America” – the U.S. Midwest – where she enjoys cooking with farm-fresh foods and writing about food, culture and the culinary arts. She is the editor of Edible Michiana Magazine and can also be found on her blog, Cultured Grub.