Recipe for Italian Olive Oil Bread Dip made with fresh herbs.
Fresh herbs and olive oil meet up to make the perfect dip for fresh Italian or French bread slices. Quick and easy to make, great for impromptu guests or quiet summer evenings outside.
While this recipe might be called Italian there is nothing Italian about this. Italians DO NOT dip their bread in olive oil when in Italy. Tuscan Traveler explains the rule about bread dipping while eating in Italy.
Italian restaurants in America serve it, but that does not make it authentic. Italian chefs consider it a waste of good ingredients. I disagree with them.
Fresh herbs and garlic, mixed with a bit of lemon juice, smothered in olive oil then topped with the tiniest bit of balsamic vinegar is not only acceptable but delicious! Since I am an American chef and I eat most of my food in the great state of Oklahoma, Olive Oil Bread Dip breaks zero rules.
The balsamic vinegar is definitely optional. I think it might have been used in the beginning to mask the bitterness if extra virgin olive oil. I like the taste of balsamic vinegar though, so I use it even when I am using light olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil can taste overly bitter after taking a whirl in a food processor. Cook’s Illustrated explains why that is in this article. I never use more extra virgin olive oil than necessary when processing.
Polyphenols are good for your health, the bitterness is the proof that they exist in your olive oil. Olive Oil Source has a wealth of information on the subject of olive oil. Start with this page and then explore.
For these reasons, I only use a small amount of extra virgin olive oil when blending the herbs and then just a splash after putting the herb mixture on a plate. I add light olive oil to the plate along with a touch of Balsamic vinegar on one side of the plate. Since people have different tolerances for bitter flavors, feel free to use all extra virgin olive oil if preferred.
I like to make this with fresh herbs. I grow basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and mint in the summer. I grow my own herbs because they are kind of expensive to buy in the grocery store. The price of one plant is the same as a small container of fresh herbs in my local markets. I harvest far more than one package worth of each herb plant over the summer.
Herbs are very easy to grow in pots. Most of them are pretty forgiving if you forget to water them. Makes them perfect for folks without a green thumb. This describes me, I struggle with plant care.
You can even grow all the herbs for this recipe indoors on a windowsill with an herb starter kit. Great for use during the winter or when you just don’t have any outdoor space to call your own.
I just happen to grow extra parsley because Eastern swallowtail butterflies will lay their eggs in the plants. The caterpillars will decimate the parsley plants, but it really is kind of cool to watch them grow.
Dried herbs can be used, however, they will need a bit of time to sit after being processed to softened up a bit.
Rosemary and thyme can be like little twigs when dried. Make sure the dried herbs are well pulverized. You could also buy a premade mix in a jar.
Fresh herbs can be minced with a knife when a food processor or blender is not available.
Just make sure there are no woody stems in the mix and it will be fine.
I have a food processor though, so that is what I use. It does require scraping down the sides about five times to get the herbs where I want them.
Red pepper flakes can be added to the herb mixture after it has been processed for more heat.
Processing the red pepper flakes makes it too hot in my opinion.
Since this recipe uses black pepper, I find it unnecessary to add any more heat, so I just place my red pepper flakes out with the salt and pepper for those would like a bit more heat to add their own.
I use my small salad plates for serving this, I tend to be a bit on the casual side when it comes to serving food. Bowls specifically designed for bread dipping are available and on my wishlist.
Fresh sliced bread from the bakery section of your local mega-mart is perfectly fine for this recipe.
I use it more often than not. But, if I have the time and gumption, I’ll make a fresh loaf of rustic crusty bread.
Italian Olive Oil Bread Dip
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil about 6 large leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley about 8 large stalks, leaves only
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves discard woody stem
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Virgin olive oil for plating
- Balsamic Vinegar optional
- Red pepper flakes optional
- Grated Parmesan cheese optional
- Combine all ingredient, except additional olive oil, in a food processor or blender.
- Process for 15 to 30 seconds. Stop processor.
- Scrape sides of the processor and process for another 15 to 30 seconds. Scrapes sides.
- Repeat above steps until mixture is finely minced and blended.
- Add a small spoon of minced herb mixture to the middle of a small plate.
- Drizzle with additional olive oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired. Add a small amount of balsamic vinegar to one side of the plate.
- Serve with fresh Italian or French bread.
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