Condiments and I have a bit of a complex relationship. For the most part, I’m afraid that they are present mainly to cover sub-standard quality food in casual dining restaurants. Steak sauce has no place on a quality, well-made steak, so if it’s offered, you don’t have a good steak. If your vegetables have to be doused in “cheese sauce” or a stick of butter to be palatable, they were never good to begin with. The point is, I think condiments are developing a bad rep because mass-producers of “food” (especially in casual chain dining establishments don’t get me started…) use them to hide a dish’s flavor.
And now even condiments themselves are becoming scary. Have you read the labels in the grocery store aisle? I swear I develop a twitch every time we pass the “maple syrup” section in the store. First of all, it’s not the “maple syrup section” because at least 80% of what’s there is not maple syrup but scary flavored corn syrup this-stuff-will-kill-you in a bottle. If your “syrup” has more than 1 ingredient “maple syrup”, then it’s not maple syrup no matter what the marketers tell you and it is not food. Then go look at the ingredients of Miracle Whip. Scarier than a haunted house, believe you me.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Good quality condiments were designed to compliment, enhance, be used in just enough quantities to make a dish really POP. They’re like the glaze on a doughnut. The cake part has to be great on its own, but that little bit of glaze just makes the doughnut experience complete for most of us. If you’re a plain cake doughnut person, it’s okay, we understand.
I still buy most of our condiments, after reading labels of course, but there’s nothing quite as delicious as a homemade aioli. The Spaniards (or the French depending on where you’d like to give credit) are on to something with this. Aioli is a compliment to many tapas, spread on sandwiches, and used to finish a variety of other dishes. It’s also easy to make at home in under 5 minutes from ingredients you likely have on hand right now. Score one for the condiments.
In the recipe below, I used a whole egg because most of you probably don’t have a couple egg yolks sitting around at any given time (and you shouldn’t – they don’t keep well). If you happen to be making a recipe that requires egg whites and leaves you with extra yolks, sub two egg yolks for the egg. We don’t waste food here if we can help it.
- 1 large egg or 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 c fresh cilantro
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c olive oil
- Place the first four ingredients in your food processor and pulse 3-4 times to combine.
- Turn the food processor on (run continuously) and drizzle in the olive oil slowly. Continue to run the food processor until the oil has emulsified and your aioli has thickened.
- Store in the refrigerator up to one week. Traditionally served closer to room temperature. Makes about 3/4 cup.