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Grand Aioli

from Fresh from the Farmers Market by Janet Fletcher


1 Pound small beets, preferably a mix of red and gold varieties
6 Small leeks
1 Dozen small turnips
1/2 Pound green filet beans (haricots verts)
2 Medium artichokes, trimmed (see note)
1 Pound mixed small summer squashes such as green and gold pattypan, golden zucchini and green ronde de nice (round zucchini)
1 Pound fingerling potatoes or other waxy new potatoes
3 Large eggs

For the aioli:
3 Large cloves garlics
Yolks from 3 large eggss
1 Cup olive oils
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oils
Fresh lemon juices
2 Large tomatoes, preferably 1 red and 1 gold, in thick wedgess
Niçoise olives, for garnishs

A platter of colorful boiled vegetables with aioli (garlic mayonnaise) is always appetizing to me, but when the vegetables come from the summer farmers' market, the presentation can be captivating. The recipe below is just a guide: your platter should vary with what you find at your market. Aim for a variety of colors and shapes, and take advantage of unusual varieties some growers may have, such as golden beets and fingerling potatoes. A grand aioli is an opportunity to show off the summer market's best, served with crusty bread, white wine and golden garlicky mayonnaise. Offer the dramatic still life as a first course; to make it a main course, add some boiled shrimp or poached salmon to the composition, or set out a separate platter of rosemary-scented grilled lamb. The stainless steel artichoke stands I refer to in the recipe can be ordered from Spanek, Inc.

Preheat oven to 375°F. If beet greens are attached, remove all but 1/2 inch of the stems (so as not to pierce the beet) and reserve for another use. Put beets in a baking dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover tightly and bake until a small knife slips in easily, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly, then peel. Keep red beets separate from yellow beets to preserve their colors.

Trim the leeks, removing the hairy roots without cutting into the base. Slit each leek partway, then wash under cold running water to remove dirt that may be trapped between the layers. If the turnips are small and thin skinned, there is no need to peel them; if they are not small, peel them. Trim the filet beans. Trim the artichokes (see note at bottom).

Bring 2 large pots of salted water to a boil. (Using 2 pots saves time.) Use these pots to boil the leeks, squashes, turnips, potatoes and filet beans. Boil each vegetable separately, removing it to a dish towel to drain as soon as it is just done. (Remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.) You do not have to change the water between vegetables; just lift each vegetable out with tongs or a slotted spoon and reuse the boiling water.

Cook the artichokes in a separate pot. I prefer to steam them upside down on artichoke stands over a small amount of boiling salted water, but you can also boil them in a large amount of salted water. Cook until the bottom is easily pierced with a knife. Drain upside down on a dish towel. When cool, quarter and scrape out the hairy choke.

Put eggs in a small saucepan with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let stand 8 minutes, then drain and run under cold water until cool. Peel eggs. Set aside.

To make the aioli: In a mortar, pound garlic to a paste with a large pinch of salt. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks well, then begin adding oil drop by drop, whisking constantly, as for mayonnaise. When sauce thickens and clearly forms an emulsion, you can add the oil faster. When you have whisked in all the oil, whisk in the garlic. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.

To serve, cut the beets and turnips in halves, quarters or thick wedges, depending on size. Cut round zucchini in wedges, long zucchini in thick rounds. Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Cut potatoes in halves or in large chunks. Quarter eggs. Arrange all the cooked vegetables, including artichokes and beans, the tomatoes and the eggs attractively on a serving platter. Scatter olives over all. Serve with aioli.

Note: To trim artichokes, fill a medium bowl with cold water and add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Cut off and discard all but 1 inch of the artichoke stem. Rub the cut end of the stem with a cut lemon. Peel back and discard the tiny tough leaves around the base. With a serated knife, cut across the top of the artichoke to remove the top quarter or third. Rub cut surface with cut lemon. With scissors, snip across each exposed outer leaf to remove the pointed tip. As each artichoke is trimmed, drop it into lemon water to prevent browning until you are ready to cook them.

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Janet Fletcher's Fresh from the farmers market from Chronicle Books

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