Lemon Aioli, Roasted Beets, Asparagus & Oven Fries

The first time I tried to make aioli (a.k.a. garlic mayonnaise), a couple of years ago, the mixture never thickened. I was left with a big, messy bowl of soupy, garlic-flavored egg yolk and oil and a heavy feeling of failure. But that earlier defeat only heightened my sense of triumph at creating a truly delicious, perfectly balanced, lemon aioli last weekend!

I had always suspected that my first attempt failed because I had not drizzled the oil in slowly enough to allow for the emulsion to form properly so this time I made sure to pour the oil into the food processor in a tiny, steady stream. Et voilą, a mere three minutes later — a lovely bowl of golden deliciousness.

I had planned to roast some beets and potatoes to dip in this dangerously addictive sauce and decided at the last minute to steam some asparagus, too, since the local offerings have been so tasty these last few weeks — my little way of tipping my hat to spring.

Perfect oven fries by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

The combination of the sweet, earthy beets, crispy, salty potatoes and the fresh umami (which is Japanese for “pleasant savory taste”) of the asparagus with the lemon aioli is, well, awesome.

Roasted beets & asparagus with lemon aioli by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

While none of these components is particularly time-consuming or challenging to assemble, there is a fair amount of slicing and dicing involved, as well as some roasting time. But you could easily just do one or two of the veggies with the aioli if you’re in a rush.

Happy spring!

Next: The recipe

Lemon Aioli With Roasted Beets, Perfect Oven Fries & Steamed Asparagus

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 large beets, scrubbed, tops and tails removed
  • 3 large or 4 medium potatoes, preferably russets, scrubbed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and with woody ends snapped off
  • For the aioli:

  • 1 lemon (preferably, organic, since you’ll be using the zest — also, if you have a Meyer lemon on hand, use that, it will be delicious!)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil (use organic)
  • 2 large egg yolks (use organic, free range eggs)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into rough chunks
  • Sea salt to taste (you’ll probably want to use around 1/2 tsp)
  • Freshly ground white or black pepper to taste
  • Directions
    1. Begin by roasting the beets. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the scrubbed, trimmed beets in a generous pouch of tinfoil, drizzle them with olive oil and fold the foil over them to form a neat, enclosed little package. Place the package on a baking sheet (preferably one you do not care overmuch about as it may end up getting some charred beet juice baked on to it — another reason not to skimp with the tinfoil — I actually used two layers this time around), place it on the rack and bake for 40-60 minutes, until the beets are tender when poked with a fork. When they’re done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool, then slip the skins off with your fingers or a knife and slice them into rounds (or whatever shape appeals to you.)

    Scrubbing the beets before roasting by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

    2. Once the beets are in the oven, it’s time to turn your attention to the oven fries. Follow this recipe — it’s from “Cook’s Illustrated” and it never fails to produce the most perfect oven fries you could imagine.

    Oven fries roasting by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

    3. Now it’s time to make the aioli. Zest the lemon and then juice it, placing both the zest and juice in the bowl of a food processor.
    Lemon Zest By Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

    Toss the garlic cloves, mustard and egg yolks into the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, begin to pour in the oil in a steady, thin stream — resist the temptation to pour it in quickly — the slow, steady addition is essential to allowing the emulsion to form. Continue to pour until all the oil has been added. You should see the mixture “gel” and become mayo-like during the process. Add white pepper and salt to taste and pulse a few times to incorporate the seasonings. Remove the aioli from the bowl, place it in a glass container with an airtight lid and put it in the fridge while you get the rest of the meal ready.

    Roasted beets & asparagus with lemon aioli by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

    * Please note that since aioli contains raw egg, you should not feed it to infants, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system due to the risk of salmonella. Also, you should keep it refrigerated and plan to use it up quickly.

    4. Place an inch or two of water in the bottom of a steamer pot and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus (heads up) to the pot and steam for 2-3 minutes, just until bright green and slightly tender. While they’re steaming, prepare a bowl of ice water that is large enough to hold all the asparagus. Once the asparagus are done, remove them from the steamer and plunge them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Then drain and gently pat dry with a kitchen towel.

    Asparagus Spears Drying by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

    5. Arrange the oven fries, beet slices and asparagus spears on a platter and serve with the lemon aioli.

    You might also like:

  • Creamy Beet Salad
  • Curried Potato Salad
  • Green Goddess Dressing
  • Grilled Asparagus With Asian Marinade
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus With Garlic
  • Quick Pickled Beets
  • Roasted New Potatoes With Rosemary & Sea Salt

    Nirvana Jaganath
    Nirvana Jaganath4 years ago

    Thanks. Anyone know a good eggless mayo recipe?

    Nirvana Jaganath
    Nirvana Jaganath4 years ago

    Thanks. Anyone know a good eggless mayo recipe

    Melinda K.
    Past Member 5 years ago


    Cath Bono
    Kate A.5 years ago

    Yum I will try this recipe soon.

    Lili M.
    Lili M.5 years ago

    I must try this!

    KrassiAWAY B.
    Krasimira B.5 years ago

    Noted with interest.

    Lika S.
    Lika S.5 years ago

    I'll have to try these. We already eat beets and asparagus anyway.

    Sheri P.
    Sheri P.5 years ago

    YUM! I love beets, asparagus, potatoes, and aioli...

    Eve Fox
    Eve Fox5 years ago

    Emmeline and Andree, you could certainly make this without the mustard if you want to stick with the authentic preparation (I am not an expert in aioli making by any means since this was my first successful venture :) I believe that it's also traditional to use lots more garlic but I felt like even the smaller amount I used was more than enough! Laura S., I LOVE roasted asparagus, you could definitely do them that way. I had roasted my beets a few days prior to composing the rest of this meal or that probably would have occurred to me. Thanks all for your comments.

    Emily Smith
    Emily Smith5 years ago

    This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing! these just might find their way into my kitchen sometime soon... :)