Mayonnaise.... as Health Food?

I love mayonnaise. The, velvety emulsification of egg yolks and olive oil--it's both versatile and fancy, both haute cuisine and... healthy!  It's true, scientists and nutritionists agree, egg yolks and olive oil are downright nutritious. So why not whisk them together, with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of dijon?


I know what you're thinking. Mayo has a nasty reputation, and for some good (and some not so good) reasons. The conventional condiment—made of vegetable oil and commercially farmed eggs—is often topped off with "flavors" and calcium Disodium EDTA. I'll leave that jar on the shelf.  But let's get real. The reason most of us have been shy about the white stuff can be summed up in one word: FAT.  For decades we were told that eggs--rich in cholesterol--were bad for us. And that oil, regardless of its origin, was best avoided.  

But we were wrong! Top nutritionists now recognize that healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. Some suggest that healthy fats (like egg yolks and olive oil) might even help certain people lose weight!  Drumroll: Mayo!

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I make my homemade mayo as they do in the South of France, with extra virgin olive oil and with lemons!  And because I use free-range, farmers’ market yolks, it turns a delicious golden hue. Buon Gusto's olive oil adds a spicy kick and lemon provides a fruity tang. Added bonus: nearly everything in this recipe be found locally at the farmers market! 



2 free range egg yolks, separated

1 cup Buon Gusto olive oil (available at our Playa Vista market)

1/2 tsp salt 

 lemon juice, (start with 1/2 lemon, more to taste) 

1 tsp good dijon (optional)



Great mayo is a matter of technique. You can use a whisk in a pinch, but I recommend using electric beaters if you have them.  

Place egg yolks, lemon juice, and dijon in a medium sized bowl. Beat with electric beaters until combined. With the beaters on high, drizzle olive oil in a thin steady stream, over the beaters.  Adding the oil, veeeeery slowly, is the one and only trick to making great mayo. As you add the oil, the mixture will thicken and the color will fade. When your mixture is stiff, you're done!  At this point taste and add salt accordingly. You also might want to add more lemon or dijon, depending on your preferences. 


If you find that your mayo has separated -- don't despair! This happens when we pour the oil too quickly, but here's a secret: it's easier to fix broken mayo than it is to make mayo right the first time! Take your broken mayonnaise mixture and pour it into a liquid measuring cup, or any bowl with a spout that's easy to pour from. Use a rubber spatula to get all that eggy oil out of the mixing bowl and set the broken sauce aside.  Now, separate another egg, and drop the yolk in your mixing bowl. From this point on, it's just like before. You're going to whisk the yolk quickly and drizzle slooooowly, BUT this time, in place of olive oil, you'll drizzle your broken mayo mixture! Beat the egg yolk on high and slowly pour the broken mayo over the beaters in a thin, steady stream. The broken mixture and your mayo will come together in no time! Once its has a uniform consistency and an opaque color, proceed with olive oil, completing the original recipe, adding up to an additional cup of olive oil to balance the extra yolk. You'll probably want more lemon and dijon too, but taste first to be sure.

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VARIATIONS…because mayo is versatile! 

* Mexican Fusion Mayo: make the spread with Buon Gusto's Cilantro Jalapeño olive oil!

* Aioli: omit lemon, add garlic and voila!  

* Cesar Salad Dressing: add anchovies and a touch more dijon and lemon! Whip to a semi-loose consistency.  Whisk in grated parmesan to finish.

* Traditional American mayo: substitute neutral tasting avocado oil and use distilled vinegar in place of lemon. 

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Celebrate healthy fats!


And don't feel guilty!


Aubrey Yarbrough manages the Playa Vista, Westwood and Hermosa Beach Farmers' Markets for Farmer Mark. Before moving to LA she ran her own organic farm and cooked on the garde manger station at the award winning Elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ. She has contributed to Edible Jersey and her poetry will appear in the forthcoming issue of New American Writing.