If you've ever gone to an Italian restaurant and filled up on bread dipped in spiced olive oil, you may have wondered what combination of spices was in the oil to make it taste so good. While recipes vary among restaurants, there are four basic spice blends added to dipping oil.
Sometimes known as Sicilian blend, the basic Italian herb blend is considered the most traditional blend of spices for dipping oil. Ingredients include dried garlic, onion, red pepper, salt and sometimes dried tomatoes, sage, oregano, parsley and rosemary. You'll likely find this blend at the most traditional style of Italian restaurants.
There are roughly two different types of Tuscan blends. One features the Tuscan tomato flavor -- basic ingredients include sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and onion. Another version of Tuscan blend does not include tomato but focuses instead on spices popularly used in the Tuscan region. Basic ingredients include fennel, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, bell peppers and rosemary. Some recipes add a little cayenne pepper or Spanish paprika.
The Rosa Maria blend makes rosemary the star of the show and also features garlic as a main ingredient. Other ingredients in the Rosa Maria blend include black pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Some restaurants add Parmesan cheese to the dipping oil. Parmesan cheese complements olive oil blends containing oregano, basil and thyme.