home made mayonnaise + vegetables

Today’s post was not inspired by the incredible bounty from our garden in Todi. See that photo of the beautiful vegetables above? Notice the lack of tomatoes, the smallness of the zucchini? This would be fine if it was June, or even the beginning of July. But we’re right in the middle of August and my basket should be so heavy I can barely lift it.


A combination of factors has meant that our orto is very disappointing this year. At least we’re not the only ones. The heavy spring rains meant that many people around us didn’t plant their gardens until pretty late. End of May for us. That meant the the little plants had to really struggle to catch up. Then came the searing heat – and no rain – of the last few months.

This means that even though we are watering like crazy the plants are doing everything they can to just barely survive. Activities like producing zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers are merely an afterthought.

So what inspired today’s post? It was actually the dessert I made for Ferragosto last week. Sophie has been asking me to make a Pavlova for about a year. Since Ferragosto is the biggest holiday of the season, I finally caved in. Pavlova, if you’ve never had it, is as magnificent looking as it is delicious and easy to make. It’s basically a large, slightly soft, meringue, that is topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Evidently, it’s the national dish of Australia.

As with any meringue, once made, you’re left with tons of egg yolks.

And that, my friends, was the  the inspiration for this dish: steamed vegetables with home made mayonnaise.

Even though home made mayo is easy, I don’t make it very often for one very good reason: it is too good. With mayonnaise in a jar, you’d never thing of eating the whole thing, right? But put a bowl of home made mayonnaise on the table and watch out. Food fights will ensue.

Since the stuff is so ridiculously good, you want to have a worthy vehicle for getting it to your mouth. Enter my pathetic crop of (albeit) gorgeous vegetables. After their struggle to survive,  these tiny things deserved the best treatment possible. So a quick steam, and they were arranged ever so prettily on a platter.

If you’re like me, your most frequent use of store-bought mayonnaise is probably when you make tuna salad, right? I’m no different. So I put tuna on the table, but upped the ante by opening a can of beautiful tuna filets packed in olive oil. 

The following day, at lunch, there was a bit of leftover tuna and a few zucchini that I put out on the table. Domenico asked where the leftover mayonnaise was. 

Leftover mayonnaise? In your dreams.

(makes about a cup and a half. I doubled the recipe and four of us finished every last drop!)

3 egg yolks
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tabelspoons lemon
1 cup oil*
1/2 tsp salt

*I use olive oil, since we have so much of it from our own trees. But I use last year’s oil, not freshly pressed, since I want a mellow taste. I’d suggest using half olive oil, and half some other oil, (sunflower for instance)

You can do this by hand, or use a food processor or a stand up mixer. I’ve done it all ways, and it’s always good. The trick is adding the oil slowly. I’ve written about it here, and already linked to Melissa’s video instruction here.

Whip egg yolks, with dijon mustard and salt, until they look creamy and light yellow.

Slowly start adding the olive oil, making sure the oil is incorporated until you mix in more.

Keep in mind that homemade mayonnaise is often a bit runnier than store bought. Almost like Hollandaise.

At the end, add the lemon juice to taste. You might want to add less, I like mine really lemony.

How to use? Well, you could just eat it with a spoon. And if you’re standing up in the kitchen, then I believe it doesn’t even have any calories. But if you want to feel somewhat balanced, steam some vegetables. I used zucchini from our garden, along with a handful of cherry tomatoes. I also briefly steamed some carrots, just because I had them in the fridge. And one beautiful potato. If there is anything better tasting than a freshly steamed potato, drizzled with home made mayonnaise, let me know.

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  1. says

    Elizabeth, do you have a recipe for vitello tonnato ? I have been buying it from a local food shop in Vicenza, and enjoying it in restaurants, but would love to make it at home.

  2. says

    Oh, you are so right!! Way, way to dangerous to make. Even though at times it is my honey makes it so I don’t have a choice. And since we tend to eat our mayo on healthy things like asparagus that makes it diet food, non? :)

  3. says

    Elizabeth, I am a newbie to your blog. I have been reading it now for about 3 weeks. I have been inspired by 2/3 of what you have sent in the time that I have been following you and every recipe is foolproof!!! A Positano devotee, I started reading when you posted about your trip there and look forward now to every post. Today’s? My neighborhood greenmarket open today and I can already taste the mayo and veggies and tuna….and that bottle of rosado is calling to me as well–chilled. My hubby and I will take everything to our rooftop and watch the sun set over Manhattan from our Brooklyn Heights home–and toast to you. Grazie Tantissime!

  4. Cindy P. says

    My goodness I can almost smell and taste the stuff. I have an abundance of tomatoes from my garden now (In Pennsylvania, USA) and wish I could swap some for some of that mayo right now. I have lovely Italian Heirloom tomatoes, medium heart shaped and loads of San Marzano among others. If only we had a transporter.

  5. says

    How perfect! I have been staring at my mini food processor lately, feeling like I’m ready to try making homemade mayonnaise. This is my cue. I’m thinking a nice farewell-to-summer lunch with chilled rose, just before the new semester starts up next week. Thanks for the inspiration!

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