One truth about myself that I'm learning- more and more- is it's the little things in life that stick.
It's the small moments I remember instead of the big ones, the quiet tender gesture rather than grandiose theatrics designed to make you swoon. Big and blown out- for me- simply fizzles and dissipates. There are gaps in my memory that reveal this proclivity to live off to the side, observing the small and overlooked, wondering what all the mainstream fuss is about. So much of what parades by as important strikes me as a lot of loud and self conscious whistling in the dark.
I prefer and savor the simple pleasures in life. Hot water and soap. Holding hands. Opening a new book. The unlauded bite of a new recipe that works- especially if you missed a certain taste- a condiment taken for granted, a spoonful most Americans plop onto their turkey sandwich, or stir into crab cakes, potato or tuna salad with no more thought or effort than simply reaching into the fridge and opening a jar.
Yes, I'm talking about mayo.
Why all the drama about a salad dressing? I'll tell you why. There isn't a single commercial mayo I can eat. Eggs are the biggest problematic mayo ingredient, followed by mustard, lemon juice, and soy. I don't think there's a single vegan mayo that doesn't rely on soy protein; and if it does not, it's still laced with lemon juice or mustard. Or both. So I've been living mayo-less for two years. And for the most part, I've been coping. I have plenty of mayo-free potato salads. But a crab cake doesn't quite hold together without it. There's a sense of, Something's missing. And a mayo-free turkey sandwich is, well, just not right.
Most vegan mayo recipes feature tofu or a thickening starch. So I started imagining what might help emulsify and thicken an eggless, tofu-free, mustard-free mayo. I pondered my vegan Cheesy Uncheese Sauce. And it hit me- raw tahini might work.
In fact, it did. So try this creamy and delicious olive oil mayo and let me know if it makes your taste buds happy. We're digging it big time. Our favorite condiment is back. As for the small zen moments in life, I thought I'd share a little bliss. Here's a 30-second video from my morning walk today. Consider it your dose of chill.
With mayo on the side.
Karina's Egg-Free Olive Oil Mayo
Recipe posted July 2009.
Choose your favorite, best tasting extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. It really makes a difference. You can use your favorite clean tasting vinegar for the acid, or use fresh lemon juice. And if mustard is not a problem for you, add a half teaspoon or so of prepared mustard, to taste.
1-2 tablespoons chilled organic raw tahini, as needed
2-3 tablespoons clean tasting apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
3-6 tablespoon cold plain rice, nut or hemp milk
1-2 teaspoons honey or raw agave nectar, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil Optional: a dab of your favorite mustard, to taste
This recipe is a flexible template. Start with the lesser amounts and add a little more if you need to adjust thickness or taste.
In a small mixing bowl (or food processor) place 1 tablespoon of the raw tahini, 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice, 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk, sea salt, paprika, xanthan gum and mustard, if using; beat/process to combine (I used a good hand mixer).
While the mixer or processor is running, start pouring the olive oil into the bowl in a thin, steady stream. After you have added all the oil, do a quick taste test to see if it needs more salt, acid or sweetness. Continue to beat or process until the mixture gets creamy and starts to thicken.
Here's the tricky part- you want it to emulsify and thicken but if you beat it too long, it can fall apart. When in doubt, stop the beating and check it. It will not be as thick and gelatinous as commercial mayo- more like a thick, creamy salad dressing.
If you have trouble getting it to thicken try drizzling in more vinegar or lemon juice. Or more mustard. That usually brings it around rather quickly.
Chilling it also thickens it, one reason (besides flavor) I use a good extra virgin olive oil in my mayo. Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy monosaturated fat that becomes semi solid in the fridge. So make your mayo ahead of time, cover and chill it for best consistency.
Use within two days for best taste.
Makes about 3/4 cup.