In the mountains, we make use of everything and quince is no exception. Adapted to the cold Pyrenean winters, this seasonal fruit is harvested in autumn. As it’s a fruit with a hard texture that’s not very good to eat raw, it’s usually made into quince paste (membrillo), which keeps for a long time.
A rural tradition here is to mix some of the paste with oil to make quince aioli, one of the best known takes on the traditional garlic- and oil-based aioli sauce.
In our country and the surrounding Pyrenean regions, quince aioli is a highly regarded condiment that goes with all kinds of dishes, whether meat or fish, although it’s just as delicious spread generously over a good slice of bread. According to tradition, this is one of the typical recipes from Andorra la Vella
Quince aioli is a thick yellow sauce, with some slightly pink tones, that has a somewhat spicy taste and can even be a bit bitter.
Like other mountain dishes, this one is highly nutritious. The basic ingredients used – garlic, quince and olive oil – all have health benefits, such as the antibacterial, antiparasitic and anticancer properties of raw garlic. Quince is a fruit with a low sugar content that’s rich in vitamin E and fibre, giving it antioxidant properties. And olive oil is a well-known source of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. We should add that like many good mountain recipes, it also has a lot of calories!
Boil the winter pear with the quinces (three quinces for each pear). Once cooked, purée and leave to cool. Once cool, finely chop the garlic (how much you use depends on your own personal taste) and place it in a deep pan where it will be easy for you to work the mixture. Add the salt and the quince and pear purée, and then add the olive oil (about half a litre) little by little, stirring all the time with a pestle. Always stir in the same direction to ensure the mixture holds together. It should be really thick, but if not, add more oil and salt as needed.
Ingredients for quince aioli:
- Winter pear
Book: Cuina casolana d’Andorra (Andorran Home Cooking)
Author: Maria Dolors Ribes Roigé