Pesto Aioli is perhaps the creamiest fusion condiment. It marries the lovely herbal aromas of classic Italian pesto with the pungency of traditional velvety aioli. Garlicky, silky and immensely satisfying, this might just become your new favorite version of aioli, and of pesto too!
Pesto is one sauce that I find irresistible. Fresh basil leaves, fruity olive oil, piquant garlic cloves, buttery pine nuts and nutty parmesan cheese make a light but intense sauce with a bright flavor. An ideal way tor embellish pasta, grilled fish or vegetables with a Mediterranean feel and vibrant green color. Then there is the allure of creamy aioli, the quintessential Mediterranean emulsion of egg yolks, garlic and olive oil. It's the authentic garlic mayonnaise and it's nothing short of delightful!
Pesto Aioli Ingredients
- Eggs: large or extra large yolks
- Garlic: medium fresh garlic cloves
- Lemon Juice: ideally fresh
- Avocado Oil: Great for this recipe because it won't become bitter with the speed of the immersion blender blade. Grapeseed oil is also an option.
- Olive Oil: good, extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Pesto: Store bought or homemade: classic pesto or almond pesto are both good options.
Though pesto and aioli are very different sauces, they're similar in richness. One is slick, herbaceous and vivid in color, while the other is creamy and pungent with a gentle hue. The flavors, though, are incredibly compatible, each one enhancing the best attributes of the other.
Recipe Options: Homemade, Store Bought or a Mixture of Both
You have options for the two major components of this recipe: aioli and pesto. You can make one or both of them from scratch or stick with store bought.
First, the aioli. An emulsion of egg yolks and olive oil, it gets its personality from garlic and any other spice or condiment added to it. If you've made it before with a traditional mortar and pestle, you may think of making homemade aioli as time consuming and complicated. But with an immersion blender, you can make it in 5 minutes flat with the recipe below. The recipe calls for raw egg yolk, so if you’re concerned about that, combine homemade pesto with store bought high quality mayonnaise instead.
Then there's the pesto. Yes, you can buy store bought, but I've never had one that tasted anywhere near as flavorful as homemade (either of my favorites: Classic Basil Pesto and Almond Pesto). There's nothing like the robust flavor of basil in freshly made pesto and it's easy to make with a food processor. But, in a pinch, store bought pesto works here. Maybe you have a brand that you love?
- Why an immersion blender? Emulsions made by hand take time and patience. You’re essentially combining two liquids that don’t play well with each other, but an immersion blender makes it easy to ensure that the ingredients are fully incorporated. The only downside of an immersion blender is that the speed of the blade can make olive oil bitter. That's why I use a blend of oils, using a neutral vegetable oil like avocado oil to begin the emulsion and whisking in olive oil at the end.
- If you make your pesto from scratch in a food processor, you'll end up with much more than is called for here. The great news is that it freezes beautifully! I like to freeze any extra in an ice cube tray and transfer to a freezer safe bag or airtight container once its frozen. It's great to have on hand and thaws quickly at room temperature.
- Pesto Aioli is a wonderful finishing touch to all kinds of fish and seafood, from Grilled Tuna Steaks and Grilled Cod, to Spicy Grilled Shrimp.
- Use as a creamy, herbaceous spread for all kinds of burgers and sandwiches (perfect for this BLT inspired Pork Belly Sandwich).
- Enjoy this versatile aioli as a dip for fries or sweet potato fries, chicken wings or crudités. Serve it in a ramekin and scoop away!
- If you’re used to adding mayonnaise to potato, macaroni or tuna salads, try using pesto aioli instead. Your salad will be creamy as always, but with flavor that's kicked up a notch.
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 medium cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup avocado oil
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- ¼ cup pesto store bought or homemade (see recipe note #1)
- Add egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and avocado oil to a 2-cup glass measuring cup (or other container that is just large enough to allow the head of your blender to reach the bottom). Place the head of an immersion blender on the bottom of the pitcher; turn it on to its highest speed. When you see aioli beginning to form, slowly lift the blender head from the bottom and move it up and down and side to side until all of the oil is incorporated. (recipe note #2)
- Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Whisk in salt and pesto until smooth; taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve or refrigerate. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
- Here are two delicious options for homemade pesto: Classic Pesto and Almond Pesto.
- You may want to transfer the aioli to a separate bowl before whisking in the olive oil and salt.
- To make the recipe with store bought mayonnaise: whisk minced garlic, pesto and kosher salt to taste into 1 cup of mayonnaise until smooth. Serve or refrigerate for up to 1 week.