Aioli, a classic Provencal starter consisting of garlicky mayonnaise, gets a flavorful boost with the addition of fresh basil.
If you have lots of eggs to use up at this time of year and a bit of extra time, try making your own mayonnaise; most basic cookbooks have the recipe. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, rinsed, dried and chopped
- 3 T. coarsely chopped fresh garlic
- 1/4 tsp. crushed dried red pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until it begins to soften and turn golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow to darken or become crisp. Add red pepper during last 30 seconds and sauté to soften.
In a blender or food processor, combine mayonnaise, one tablespoon olive oil, and the sautéed garlic and pepper along with any oil remaining in pan. Process until smooth and well-blended. Transfer to serving bowl and stir in chopped basil.
If desired, garnish with one or more of the following: whole or chopped fresh basil or parsley, grated lemon zest, chopped egg yolks, diced yellow or red pepper, or chopped capers and coarsely ground black pepper. 8 to 10 servings.
Walnut and Feta Cheese Dip
You can make this a day ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend; add the walnuts just before serving. If your guests like the flavor of blue cheese, substitute 1/3 Cup crumbled Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese for the feta cheese.
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 T. dry white wine
- 1 tsp. fresh garlic, put through a press or very finely minced
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 2 T. chopped fresh herbs of your choice, such as parsley, dill, basil, or tarragon
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
Combine sour cream, cheeses, wine, garlic, and salt and pepper, and stir to blend well, using a fork to break up feta cheese. Stir in herbs and red onions. If making ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Stir in walnuts just before serving. Garnish with chopped walnuts and fresh herbs.
Summer Vegetable Crudités
Serve these dips with a bounty of fresh vegetable crudités. Some cooks prefer to blanch such vegetables as carrots, beans, peas and broccoli to intensify the color. If you do so, chill the vegetables and refresh them with cold water before arranging on the serving platter.
Suggestions for vegetables include:
- Baby beets
- Bell peppers
- Cherry, grape, or yellow pear tomatoes
- Sugar snap or snow peas
- Yellow summer squash