In a rather convoluted way, this salad started with garlic aioli.
Months ago now, J and I were eating at Canary Square, a restaurant in Jamaica Plain. We’d split an order of fries to start, and our waiter offered to bring us a second dip in addition to the house-made ketchup. A side of garlic aioli came out with the fries. As I dipped in my first fry, I had to summon massive amounts of willpower not to go at the little container of aioli with my spoon and then my tongue. Silky smooth and garlicky, the aioli was a nice contrast to the crispy fry. I could lavish on many more adjectives, but truly, I was dipping a potato fried in fat into garlic-flavored fat. It was bound to be delicious.
Determined to recreate the experience, I came home and attempted my own aioli, carefully following this recipe for garlic lemon aioli from Food52. I’d read about making mayonnaise before, and preparing to make my own aioli left me a little anxious and with visions of Julia Child carefully heating copper bowls to a precise temperature before whisking away. I decided that if the emulsion broke I’d just turn to trusty Google for a solution. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d know what a broken emulsion would even look like. I’ll save you the anticipation; the recipe worked perfectly. I love recipes like that. Also, the aioli was delicious, full of garlic, lemon, and pride that I hadn’t mucked it up. I happily licked the whisk (which I would have done even if I’d had an audience other than my cat, it was that good).
In some basic attempt at health, I’d roasted some asparagus to make “asparagus fries” for dipping in the aioli. I calmly consumed a pound of asparagus in this fashion. Now aioli is basically an egg yolk, flavorings of your choice, and massive amounts of oil. Despite it’s deliciousness, this isn’t something I safely can recommend as a daily snack.
Which leads us to this salad.
It’s not as delicious as garlic aioli. Sorry about that, but I’m not going to pretend otherwise. However, it has many of the same flavors, and you could eat it every day for lunch without feeling your arteries harden with each bite. Roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes (I’d like to pretend the potatoes are a nod to the french fries in the original experience, but really I just add potatoes to everything) and a hard boiled egg top a bed of lettuce or spinach. The dressing is just a minced garlic clove, a tiny bit of grainy mustard, juice from half a lemon, olive oil, and salt.
I roasted a pound of asparagus and a whole skillet full of potatoes, hard boiled half a dozen eggs, and promptly had lunch for the week. This was a salad I happily ate 5 days in a row, with only the occasional wistful imagining that I was actually licking garlic aioli off a whisk in my kitchen.