If you’ve eaten out lately, you likely have seen the word “aioli” (A-O-lee) on the menu. If you’re not familiar with culinary terms, it can be a how-do-I-pronounce-this head-scratcher. Actually, how the Mediterranean word is used now extends a lot further than aioli’s original definition, which is simply mayonnaise flavored with garlic. The sauce’s names mean “oil and garlic” in Catalan and Provençal, the Spanish and French regions where it was first created.
In the U.S., we find aioli on sandwiches and used as a side dip or sauce. But, it has become a word that often is preceded by another descriptor, such as Pesto Aioli or Roasted Red Pepper Aioli. So now you get mayo with garlic and basil for the Pesto version and, you guessed it, red peppers for the other.
For many restaurants, it’s a chance to sneak in a fancy word. I ate at a seafood restaurant that served my fish with horseradish aioli on the side, which turned out to pretty much be tartar sauce with heat.
I bring this up because one of today’s recipes is Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Pesto Aioli. If you’ve got basil in your garden like I do, it’s an excellent way to use it. Dip the roasted veggies in it or just make the aioli and let diners dip what they want; it tastes that good.
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Aioli in a jar with a tight lid can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, but it’s best to use it in a week.
Gilding the brownie
If you can take a cake mix and add other stuff to it and make an even better cake, why not do the same with brownie mix? Try this recipe that adds cherry pie filling and see what you get.
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Grilled Vegetable Kabobs with Pesto Aioli
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 (10-inch) bamboo skewers
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
2 medium zucchini, cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow summer squash, cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place pesto aioli ingredients in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed about 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape sides, until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
Heat gas or charcoal grill. Soak skewers in water 10 minutes; drain. On two of the skewers, thread tomatoes, leaving 1/8-inch space between each piece. Repeat with remaining skewers and vegetables. Brush vegetables with olive oil; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Place kabobs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook until grill marks form and vegetables are fork-tender, 3 to 4 minutes for tomatoes, 7 to 10 minutes for bell peppers, 10 to 12 minutes for onion and 12 to 15 minutes for zucchini and yellow squash. Serve kabobs with pesto aioli.
*To toast pine nuts, sprinkle in ungreased heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently until nuts begin to brown, then stirring constantly until nuts are light brown.
Makes 4 servings, each with 720 calories (590 of those are from fat in aioli), 65 grams fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 13 grams sugar, 11 grams protein. Exchanges: 1 other carbohydrate, 1 very lean meat, 13 fat. Carbohydrate choice: 1 1/2.
Cherry Almond Brownies
Box of brownie mix
Can of cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sliced almonds, divided
Combine brownie mix with pie filling, eggs and extract. Stir 3/4 cup almonds into the batter and spread into the pan. Sprinkle with rest of almonds, and then bake as directed.
Note: For even more flavor, try lightly toasting the nuts before mixing them into the batter.