“You go to the market, take the freshest vegetables you can find, and you just slice.”

April 25, 2017

The weather is getting warmer, and for Ludo Lefebvre, that means crudité. In the latest episode of Ludo à la Maison, the chef shows us his take on the classic French vegetable appetizer.

According to Ludo, this dish is a quintessential way to use spring and summer produce. “In France, you know, we have two months vacation!” he says. “No, not two months—two and a half. Sorry guys.”

For him, a big part of vacation is eating fresh: “I have a lot of memories, going to vacation in the south of France, and to just have this beautiful platter of vegetables,” says Ludo. “Cut the vegetables the way you want, and you do a killer, killer aioli.”

The base of a good aioli is garlic, and Ludo doesn’t skimp. It’s gotta be fresh: “#$%! I hate peeling garlic,” says Ludo, “but you guys, please, I don’t like to peel garlic, but don’t be lazy.” If chopping garlic isn’t your favorite thing, Ludo empathizes: “I know you don’t want to do it because your hands [afterwards] smell, and it takes a long time, and it’s just a pain in the ass. I know that. I know. I agree with you, I totally agree with you.” But still, says Ludo, “You want to have fresh garlic.”

Dicing garlic can be tedious, so Ludo has a simpler solution: smash and mash each clove with the side of your knife until it becomes pasty. Then, pour olive oil over your pile before chopping—the liquid will keep the pieces together, so they won’t fly around your cutting board.

Ludo puts half of his garlic in a saucepan with some dry white wine, and reduces until dry. “I love to do my aioli with raw garlic and cooked garlic,” he says, to add some depth of flavor. While the cooked garlic is cooling, he separates out some egg yolks for the aioli, and adds mustard (“Make sure to use dijon mustard!”), kosher salt, white pepper and the remaining raw garlic.

Ludo beats the ingredients in a stand mixer while adding a slow trickle of extra virgin olive oil—“If you go too quick, the aioli can break.” When the aioli is firm, he adds some lemon zest and the cold cooked garlic, and mixes until incorporated.

Get Ludo's easy Garlic Aioli Recipe here.

The aioli complete, Ludo moves on to the vegetables—the true star of any crudité platter. “There are so many things you can do with vegetables,” says Ludo. “A lot of different ways to cut the vegetables, to eat them. A vegetable can taste differently [based on] the way you cut it. It’s like fish.”

Ludo opts for crunchy favorites like carrots, asparagus, radish and bell pepper—but with crudité, the sky’s the limit. “Keep them whole, slice them, dice them, julienne”—and use whatever you find at the market!

Ludo offers variations on presentation—for one plate, he cuts the vegetables small, and mixes with olive oil before plating artfully with a pool of aioli in the middle. But of course, the classic preparation is just an overflowing platter of rustically cut veggies, ready for dipping.

Crudité, like many of Ludo’s favorite dishes, has an element of nostalgia for him. “I have all these memories as a kid [going to the market] with my grandpa. We walk over there, we get our vegetables, our meat, we get the bread, and Grandpa stops at the bar for a little glass of rosé.” Maybe his grandpa was the inspiration behind Ludo’s wine-pairing recommendation: “With crudité and a killer aioli, I will serve, of course, a very, very good Côtes de Provence Rosé.”