Saffron & Lemon Aioli
Homemade vegan aioli or mayonnaise can be daunting. That’s why I sometimes cheat and start with a spoonful of store bought vegan mayo. It’s already emulsified with protein (pea, soy, rice or otherwise) so you’re more likely to end up with a silky sauce rather than what looks like broken vinaigrette. If you don’t have vegan mayo, you can start with a few cashews and a teaspoon of unflavored vegan protein powder along with the lemon juice, but you will have to be more careful when adding the oil. If you mess up, just follow the instructions to get it back on track.
Like many of my recipes, yogurt is the final ingredient and serves to bring everything together and give the end result luscious texture and flavor. It is definitely the secret to this gorgeous, versatile sauce. It can be served warm (straight from the blender) or chilled, though the sauce will thicken if left refrigerated.
My favorite saffron is from Rumi. Not only is it the best quality you can find, but it is co-founded by one of my fellow Tory Burch Foundation grant winners, Kimberly Jung. Rumi is the single largest employer of Afghan women in Afghanistan, and is founded by veterans and former rural development workers committed to working with local farmers. After just 15 minutes of steeping their saffron in lemon (a trick I learned from Kim that brings out the color) you will have the most vibrantly colored yellow juice. Beside this sauce, it would be great for making drinks, marinades, desserts and stews. Expect more recipes with saffron here!
Saffron & Lemon Aioli
(makes 2 1/2 cups)
1 pinch saffron strands
1 ea large lemon, juice only, or 2 small lemons
1 1/2 cups Anita’s Yogurt
1 tbp vegan mayonnaise, heaping
3/4 cup vegetable oil, like safflower (approximate)
1 tsp sea salt
To make aioli, steep the saffron strands in the lemon juice for at least 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender with mayonnaise and salt and blend to combine. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in oil in a thin stream until mixture is thickened and pale yellow. (If the mixture breaks, remove from blender, add another spoon of mayonnaise, and slowly pour the mixture back in with the blender running.) Blend in the remaining yogurt and transfer to serving vessel.
Serve over The Best Vegan Benedict. Other serving ideas include pouring over steamed broccoli or poached asparagus, or alongside roasted potatoes, or as a dip for crudities. Store extra sauce refrigerated in a tightly sealed jar.