How to flavor olive oil for dipping

Written by carol bancroft
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Fresh, crusty bread is delicious on its own, but it is made even better when paired with flavoured olive oil for dipping. Many Italian restaurants offer guests small saucers of infused olive oil when the server places the bread basket on the table. You can make your own flavoured olive oil at home using your favourite combination of herbs.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dried or fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, bay leaves or basil
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Lemon zest (optional)
  • Cracked black pepper (optional)
  • Small, shallow bowls for dipping (no bigger than 1/2 cup capacity)
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons

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  1. 1

    Pour 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil into your dipping bowls.

  2. 2

    Decide on what combination of herbs you'd like to use. Stick to two or three herbs so the flavour is not overwhelming. Basil, oregano and garlic is a classic combination. Rosemary and cracked black pepper is tasty. Bay leaf, garlic and lemon zest is a refreshing twist. Add approximately 1/2 tsp of each herb. Feel free to use more or less to suit your own tastes.

  3. 3

    Combine the herbs and the oil. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes, giving the olive oil time to absorb the flavour of the herbs.

  4. 4

    Serve the flavoured olive oil alongside fresh baked bread or breadsticks.

Tips and warnings

  • For a quick dipping sauce, add a little prepared pesto or olive tapenade to olive oil.
  • A bit of high-quality balsamic vinegar swirled into extra virgin olive oil makes a simple, yet flavourful, dipping sauce.
  • If you need to use the flavoured olive oil immediately, and cannot wait 15 minutes for the flavours to be absorbed, microwave the olive and herb mixture for 10 to 15 seconds. The heat will help release the flavour of the herbs.
  • Flavoured oil made with fresh herbs, garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers or ginger should be used right away. The fresh ingredients contain water, which supports the growth of the botulism bacteria. Any flavoured olive oil should be refrigerated and used within a few days.

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