Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD
Please note that some of the content below has been sponsored. This means I have received compensation to create a recipe with Secolari’s products. But I promise the final result came out fantastic, and all ideas and viewpoints are my own.
Inspiration for this post
You guys, I had so much fun coming up with ideas for this blog post! We wanted to go with a Halloween theme, so I thought I’d practice a fun, easy appetizer spread that you can use at your upcoming Halloween gathering.
Last year, we decided to set up a Halloween hunt, similar to an Easter egg hunt for Roman rather than trick or treating. We had family only but still stayed outside with a small backyard fire pit.
This year, he agreed to trick-or-treat if his costume had a mask, which was easily accomplished. But we’ll probably still have (vaccinated) family around due to the new baby. Hopefully, everyone will enjoy this spread!
Secolari Olive Oil
I’ve recently learned about Secolari, a company that produces artisanal olive oil and vinegar, as well as seasoning blends, spreads, and condiments.
Y’all may remember my preference for olive oil for health and taste reasons from my previous discussion on the Mediterranean Diet. I use it to saute and roast veggies, create sauces, marinades, dips (hello hummus and tzatziki!), drizzle over yummy pasta, toast bread in a pan for sandwiches, and more. Despite what you may have heard, EVOO is quite resistant to heat and is suitable for most cooking methods.
Extra virgin olive oil will have the most flavor and the highest concentration of healthy fat and phytochemicals.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Remember that no one food is capable of significantly changing your health on its own. However, in conjunction with a well-balanced diet, olive oil appears to have many health benefits.
- It contains monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart, vitamins E and K, and other antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. This can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
- Weirdly, despite identical calories to butter, participants in one study actually showed weight loss when olive oil intake increased.
- It may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Preliminary studies indicate that olive oil may improve symptoms of mental illness, including Major Depressive Disorder.
Let’s get to the recipe!
When asked to create a recipe highlighting olive oil, my mind immediately went to a bread dip. Erik and I used to eat at an Italian restaurant that had this excellent dip with crispy garlic in it. The restaurant’s been gone for many years now, but just thinking about that dip made me crave it, and I decided to create something similar!
I chose an olive oil that was noted to have a robust flavor, so it wouldn’t disappear behind any seasonings I wanted to use. They have a wide variety of flavored oils, too; the rosemary, in particular, caught my eye, but Erik doesn’t like rosemary, and I worried about having too many flavors. Next time though…
As for vinegar, I knew I wanted a balsamic vinegar, and they have a blackberry balsamic vinegar that sounded amazing. I figured it would taste like the awesomeness of balsamic vinegar, with just enough difference to notice something.
Outside of the oil and vinegar, the other major star of this show is toasted garlic. I included instructions on how to make it yourself; it’s really quite easy. However, you can probably pick up some pre-toasted garlic at your grocery store or on Amazon. However, you won’t get the garlic infusion into the oil if you go this route.
Olive Oil Bread Dip with Toasted Garlic
- Small skillet
- ½ cup Secolari Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4-5 cloves fresh garlic minced
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning blend
- 2-3 Tbsp Secolari Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
To toast the garlic
- Pour olive oil into a small skillet on medium low heat.
- When oil is warm, add minced frsh garlic.
- Cook for 7-8 minutes, occasionally swirling the pan, until garlic darkens in color.
- Pour oil into your serving bowl through a strainer to separate the garlic. Let garlic rest on paper towels. It will continue to crisp up as it cools.
To make the bread dip
- Add the Italian seasoning blend, red pepper flakes, and salt to the garlic-infused olive oil and mix to combine.
- Drizzle in the vinegar, then top with toasted garlic.
- Serve immediately.
*Nutrition Facts are an estimate only. Differences are expected when making substitutions for any ingredient or when different brands are used.
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Tips and Tricks
Skip the jarred, minced garlic for this recipe. Although I don’t like mincing garlic myself, you have to here.
The jarred stuff won’t crisp up the way you want to, and the little bits clump together rather than float freely in the dip.
When cooking the garlic, resist the urge to crank up the heat, or you’ll burn your garlic. You want to see tiny bubbles around the garlic bits but no sizzle. Even still, don’t walk away from your garlic. Swirl the garlic around the pan occasionally, and watch for that toasted color. Remove the pan from the heat and strain out the garlic as soon as you see it.
I love the addition of red pepper flakes in this dip. I prefer a few pops of spice rather than an overall spicy pepper flavor, so I kept the flakes to a fairly small amount. Adjust this to your preference.
I love this with a chewy, crusty bread such as french boule or ciabatta, but I bet any you choose would be yummy. When I tested this recipe, we had some garlic batard on hand, and that was pretty good too!
You don’t have to use this amount of oil to toast garlic. I chose to use the total amount I will use in the dip to infuse the garlic taste into the oil. That way, we get yummy garlic goodness in each bite, even if we don’t get a crunchy piece of garlic.
We served our test recipe with an Italian-inspired dinner: BIG salad, a little pasta-bake, with the bread and dip on the side. A bit carby, but it was yummy and powered Roman through Tae Kwon Do class afterward.
But for Halloween, we wanted to jazz it up. I’m not the most creative food stylist, so I opted for easy options to make the party plate more appealing. A cheese ball shaped like a pumpkin, mini cookie cutters for the cheese slices, sprinkles to add a spooky flair when needed, individual bite-sized pieces of bread, all served on Halloween-themed dishes.
And how easy would it be to modify this for literally any holiday?
Let me know what you think
Are you going to try this recipe? Are you a to-the-letter cook or an experimenter? Let me know in the comments how it turned out for you and any modifications you made to suit your own tastes.
And what do you think about how we served it? Would you serve bread dip with an appetizer or party platter?
Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, mom, wife, and vegetarian in North Texas. She has dedicated Dietitian Jenn to be a source of information, ideas, and inspiration for people like her, vegetarians that live with people with different dietary beliefs and/or needs in a multivore household.