heirloom & wild-grown dried fruits & nuts from Afghanistan

Vilda Gonzalez is a chef, recipe developer, and creative based in Charleston, SC. She is the co-founder of Dine Sol-Eir, a quarterly communal dinner series designed as a celebration of each passing season. Each dinner acts as an exploration of the impact of hospitality beyond the walls of a more traditional restaurant. Her work takes many forms, from cooking private dinners, to feeding big groups on retreat, developing recipes for brands, teaching cooking classes, and advocating for more sustainable local food systems, but the through line is constant: she believes that food should be delicious, flavorful, and indulgent, while also being deeply nourishing, sourced with integrity, and inherently healthful. Her mission is to rewire our collective relationship to what eating well truly means, through the lens of seasonality, sensuality, and intuitive home cooking. 

Photo: Lizzy Rollins
Photo: Lizzy Rollins

Vilda’s Toasted Shakhurbai Almond Aioli


For the aioli:

  • 1 egg yolk, preferably from eggs laid by a chicken raised on pasture
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard 
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 tsp lemon juice 
  • Chopped aleppo toasted almonds, recipe follows

For the almonds:

Microplane a clove of garlic in a small bowl, and cover with the lemon juice. Set aside to macerate for at least 5 minutes. 

If you don’t have a particularly heavy bowl and are working alone, a great trick for keeping your bowl stable goes as follows: thoroughly wet a kitchen cloth, wring it out, then twist it up into a long, tight rope. Roll this rope into a circle on your work surface, making sure there’s enough space inside the circle for your bowl to fit in snug. This creates enough traction between the bowl and your work surface, which allows you autonomy in whisking without your bowl aimlessly spinning around. 

Set your bowl inside this little nest, or use a very heavy set bowl like a stone mortar. Add your egg yolk, mustard, and a pinch of salt to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Now, drop by tiny drop add your olive oil, stirring all the while with your free hand.

As you continue slowly adding oil, you’ll notice that the mixture will become gradually paler and thicker. Once this mixture is emulsified, you can start adding the olive oil in a faster, gentle stream – still stirring all the while! Keep adding oil until your mayonnaise is too thick to continue whisking with ease. You will be impressed by how much oil one single egg yolk can hold. The recipe calls for ¾ cup of olive oil, but you may need to use less or more depending on the size of your egg yolk. 

Add the lemon macerated garlic to the mayo, and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Fold in the toasted almonds and stir to combine. 

This aioli is particularly delicious as a dip for seasonal cruditė, but would be just as lovely alongside a delicate white fish or a spatchcocked chicken. 

For the almonds:
Heat a small frying pan over medium/low heat. When the pan is hot, add the almonds and a glug of olive oil. Toss to properly coat the almonds. Toast for a minute or two, until the almonds are deeply aromatic. Season with a generous pinch of aleppo. Take off the heat, and roughly chop. 

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By working directly with family farms and village cooperatives to source true heirloom fruit and nut varieties, Ziba presents only the highest-quality agricultural products, many of which are grown wild.