Basil Parmesan Sauce

By Christina Collins

Sauces are so important to any dish from the humble lunch sandwich to the most gourmet of meals. Often overlooked by home cooks because they can be intimidating, sauce is vital and what pulls a meal together. Like shoes to an outfit- it serves an important functional role as well as pulling everything together. Sauce should never, ever be overlooked.

This is one of my absolute favorite sauce recipes. I love that it is packed with fresh flavor, can be made in advance, and it’s extremely versatile. I use it on everything from classic turkey sandwiches to elegant beef tenderloin. It’s a perfect condiment to keep around and I am always finding new ways to use it. You can’t say that about too many other sauces.

basil mayo in jar

This sauce is really nothing more than a flavor infused fresh mayonnaise. I changed the name from mayonnaise to sauce after serving it with beef tenderloin (as I always do) after I discovered that not everyone was down with the idea of mayo and meat. So I started presenting it as Beef Tenderloin with Basil & Parmesan “Sauce” and guess what happened? Everyone tried it and loved it. Funny how people have what they “like” and don’t like” already made up in their minds before trying things.

The original recipe is from Ina Garten but I have tweaked the recipe over time to get it just right. Here are some tips I picked up along the way:

  • This is sauce is best made in advance so the flavors have time to marry together.  
  • While Ina uses vegetable oil, I prefer using sunflower oil. I found it lightens up the oily flavor and texture noticeably.
  • Mason jars are the perfect way to store this sauce.
  • When serving with beef, I like to take the chill off the sauce before serving.
basil aioli

Basil Parmesan Sauce

Prep Time 10 mins
Course sauce

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large egg yolks at room temperature (organic free range eggs are recommended)
  • 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sunflower oil (canola oil works well here too.)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped and packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, parmesan, mustard, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. (About 20 seconds.)
  • Combine the 2 oils in a measuring cup. With the processor running, slowly pour the oils into the bowl through the feed tube and process until emulsified.
  • Taste for seasoning. (It is a sauce, so it should have ia good amount of seasoning.)
  • Store the sauce in the refrigerator for at least 3 days. A mason jar works well.

As always, I always suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

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