Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, is there anything more awesome than the almighty egg?  The uses for this culinary golden child are seemingly endless!  There is, perhaps, no better example of the wondrous feats that an egg can achieve than aioli.  You start with eggs, lemon juice, and oil and somehow end up with a velvety, creamy, ultra-rich concoction that will make you swear off store-bought mayonnaise forever.

Admittedly, it isn't something I make often.  Aioli is not exactly what I would call "health food," but when you make it with locally-sourced, farm-fresh eggs, heart-healthy olive oil and enjoy it in moderation, there's nothing to feel guilty about!  There is also something very satisfying about making this flavorful condiment from scratch.  It is so simple and classic, yet always an elegant addition to any dish.

This recipe is full of Colorado's Spring harvest, including local walking onions from Red Wagon Farms (you can use green onions as a substitute), Penny's Eggs from Nunn, local asparagus, and some fresh basil from my porch garden.  Add a simple green salad and you've got yourself a meal (and a perfect way to celebrate a beautiful Spring day!). 

Walking Onion and Basil Aioli
makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 walking onions, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup fresh basil leaves and stems
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp coarse salt
2 fresh egg yolks
1 cup olive oil

In a food processor, add onions, basil, lemon juice and salt and pulse until combined.  Add egg yolks and pulse again to combine.  Scrape the sides of the processor bowl to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed at the bottom (so the blades catch as much as possible).  Switch the machine on and with the blade running continuously, very slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stopping periodically (about every 1/4 cup or so) to, again, scrape the sides of the bowl so that the aioli blends evenly.  Turn the machine off as soon as all the oil has been added.  Adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Transfer aioli to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Grilled Artichokes and Asparagus
Serves 4

2 large artichokes
1 bunch asparagus
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper

Prep artichokes by removing the first outer layer of leaves and trimming the pointed edges off the remaining leaves.  Cut the stem to about 1 inch in length.  In a large pot, add about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, then stand the artichokes on their stems in the pot and cover.  Steam until they are just barely tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool the artichokes off by running them under cold water for about 30 seconds, then slice each one in half.

Turn the grill on about medium-high and allow to preheat.  Brush the artichokes and asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Start grilling the artichokes first (they take longer) by placing them on the grill cut-side down.  After 8 minutes, turn the artichokes 90 degrees to create a cross-hatch pattern and grill for another 8 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes, place the asparagus on the grill and cook each side for about 2 to three minutes.  Remove vegetables from the grill and serve hot or at room temperature with aioli on the side.