Aioli – 3 Ways

It is always so fun to get a new gadget and find an exciting way to use it.  That gadget for me today is a white and grey marble Mortar and Pestle.  You might be thinking, “What?! She, who loves cooking and experimenting, doesn’t already have a mortar and pestle?!” Seems kind of wrong, right?!

I need to share a little story with you with regards to that. Many years ago, I worked at a retail store where a huge focus was anything to do with cooking and entertaining. I’m talking small kitchen appliances, gadgets, beautiful table dinnerware, serving pieces and let’s not forget glassware (as we currently have wine service for 40+ at our house because of it).

While working there, I acquired many things – including a molcojete. If you do not know what that is, I would describe it as the original mortar and pestle IF you are from Hawaii. It is made from volcanic rock and is heavy as they come. I was so excited to get this, thinking of the fun guacamole serving and other smashing I can do with it.

Here’s the thing with a molcojete – you have to season it and that is a multiple step process of repeatable grinding of uncooked rice with a little water until the surface is smooth. You can probably guess that 12 years later, this has not been accomplished yet. (Insert sad face here and go ahead and laugh at me for that). There were many wedding registrants that I warned about the seasoning piece that left on the registry and then returned the molcojete after realizing the level of work in seasoning. I understand the irony of instructions/warnings I gave others and lack of action myself. Although, just writing about this now, has given me a little pep on the molcojete and it may come back out and have new life to actually be seasoned and used yet.

Jump ahead to today and the new mortar and pestle. I am excited to share working with it and the ease of using this to start the base recipe of this aoili. The base starts with just one clove of garlic and some kosher salt sprinkled over it that you grind into a paste. Then you then add the egg yolk, followed by the lemon juice, incorporating both at each step.

From there, the recipe calls for 1 total cup of a combo of oils. Based on the size of my mortar, I transferred to a bowl at this point and slowly began whisking the oil into the base. It is important that you slowly incorporate the oil, especially at the beginning and whisk until the egg has grabbed it all before adding more. One egg yolk can absorb a lot of oil, but the oil needs to be added slowly at first.

From there, you can use this aoili for different things – dipping sauce for fries, dressing for fish dishes or married with other flavors for different servings. In this post, I share the basil version that was perfect for a Caprese Lamb Burger and the black olive and anchovy version that was great on a crudites platter. However you choose to enhance this aioli, it will be a great addition to your dishes! I’d love to here some of your variations and what you did with them.

Aioli – 3 Ways

#1: Basic Aioli (base):


  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbls ice water, if needed


With a mortar and pestle, smash garlic and salt to make into a rough paste. Add lemon juice and combine. Transfer to a large bowl, slowly whisk in the grapeseed oil until encorporated. Then continue whisking to add in the extra virgin olive oil. At this point you should have a thick aioli.

Once oil is encorporated, taste and begin to add seasonings to your liking. Salt to taste, as needed. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, till you reach your desired consistency. Add more fresh lemon, if needing more more acid for balance. Aioli keeps in fridge for approximately 3 days.

Note: If your mortar and pestle is large enough, you can make the aioli totally in there, no need to dirty another dish.

#2 Basil Aioli:


  • Basic aioli
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil


In you mortar and pestle, add the basil with a small touch of salt and smash until the basil is broken down into paste. Add that to approximately half of the basic aioli recipe (1/2 – 3/4 cup aioli), and stir to fully combine. The aioli becomes a beautiful green color.

This was used as condiment to the Caprese Lamb Burger.

#3 Black Olive Anchovy Aioli


  • 3 Tbls roughly chopped kalmata olives
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup basic aioli


In a mortar and pestle, smash the olives and anchovy paste together until combined and relatively smooth. Then stir in the basil aioli until fully encorporated. Grate for topping fresh crispy vegetables.

We served this with fresh radishes and carrots, and sprinkled with flacky black salt.

Happy Smashing!!!

*Recipes from Gjelina cookbook, with some modifications.

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