This fairly well known dipping oil from the Carrabba’s® restaurant chain is great to serve with warm Italian or French bread as an appetizer. I got it from the Internet and it belongs in Food Nirvana simply because it is the best I have ever tasted.
Recipes like this one lend themselves to many variations based on what each of us like best. I suggest starting with this recipe and then experimenting with crushed fresh herbs and perhaps a very tiny amount of rice vinegar. Fresh herbs, especially oregano, rosemary and basil should boost the flavor considerably. Using all fresh garlic instead of granulated and fresh garlic will add to that effect. See below.
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or as needed)
Simply mix all of the dry ingredients, put them into a glass jar with a lid and keep that at room temperature, and then serve small amounts of the herbs, spices and oil on small saucers with Italian or crusty French bread for dipping. At Carrabba’s® they keep the oil separate from the dry ingredients and that practice guarantees the right combination on the dipping saucer, for if you put all the ingredients into the oil it is virtually impossible to get the ideal mixture to dispense onto the dipping saucer.
According to the recipe I found, additional olive oil can be added to the herbs and spices in the storage container to create more of this delight as needed until they are gone. But somehow I think the flavor on subsequent oil additions will be weaker, and the benefit of keeping the oil separated from the dry ingredients until serving time is lost. I suggest using fresh herbs and garlic in the oil in advance to guarantee full flavor.
The truly clever way to enhance the dipping oil is to use fresh herbs and minced fresh garlic in quantity in a larger bottle of oil. Then, use that oil without capturing the materials you put into it and mix the flavored oil with dry herbs at the time of use, the way it is done at Carrabba’s®. Thus, the oil alone already carries intense herb/garlic flavors, and the dry herb role is more decorative and effective.