Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dipping Oil

I've launched a little food-related project in conjunction with the folks at Fooducopia, a site where small food producers sell their products. My part in this is that I'll be creating recipes specifically for products sold on the Fooducopia site. This is one of those recipes. 

In this case the product was Monte Olivares Olive Oil.

I use plenty of olive oil. It's my oil of choice for everything except high heat frying. But it's seldom the star of the dish.

This time, olive oil needed to be the star - it was the ingredient I got from Fooducopia to write about. I briefly considered salad dressing, since it's a major component. But in salad dressing, most of what you taste is the vinegar and then the spices. No, I needed a recipe where you could taste the olive oil - to savor it.

I considered an olive oil cake. I considered a few other things. Finally I hit on the perfect thing. Dipping oil. You knows those oils that you get at restaurants for dipping bread? They're a great alternative to butter - probably healthier. And they're easy to make.

I suggest that you make this at least a little bit in advance. You want the flavor of the shallot (or garlic, if that's what you use) to mellow a bit, and you want to give the herbs a little time to hydrate.

I've had dipping oils that are ALL oil with herbs added, but I think a small amount of vinegar cuts the richness of the oil nicely. I've also seen recipes that have so much vinegar that they're simply salad dressing in a bowl. That's a little too much. To me, the vinegar should be an accent. Just enough to tickle the end of the bread when you dip it in, but much more than that.

I used a shallot when I made this - I like the oniony-garlic flavor. But you could use garlic instead. And I completely lazed out with the herbs. I used an Italian herb mix that included marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. You could use any mix you have on hand, or combine individual spices to make your own mix.

Dipping Oil

1 small shallot (or very small garlic clove) minced
1 teaspoon Italian herb mix
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt*
1/4 cup olive oil
Bread, for dipping

Combine the shallot, herbs, and vinegar in a small container or your dipping bowl. Let it sit at least 15 minutes for the herbs to hydrate. Add the oil. Serve with slices or chunks of baguettes for dipping. You can make this a day or more in advance. The longer it sits, the more the onion or garlic will mellow.

You can make larger quantities of this well ahead of time. If you give it a good shake, it will emulsify briefly so you can portion it into dipping bowls. After it sits for a few minutes, it will separate into layers again.

*If you're using a commercial herb mix, read the label to see if salt is included. If it is, you probably won't want to add any more.

To be clear, I'm not reviewing or endorsing the products in this recipe. I've created the recipe for Fooducopia to post on its site and I'm re-posting the recipe here for my readers as well. Then again, since I created the recipe, rest assured that I liked it. I don't cook stuff that we're not going to eat.