Herbs in Olive Oil as an Appetizer
            —Carrabba’s Restaurant

Julene and I love to await our meal at Carrabba’s dipping some great bread in olive oil sprinkled with these herbs. According to the servers, here is what is in the dried mixture.

Back in the 1970s, I studied Greek and Latin at the University of Paris. I remember learning that the fundamental diet of Greeks was bread and olive oil. I didn’t think that sounded too appetizing. As I’ve grown older, my tastes have grown simpler even if I like to express them in sometimes complex ways at meals I prepare. I love piecing on fresh bread and thinly sliced tomatoes fresh out of the garden over which minced garlic has been strewn. And olive oil. This is great stuff.


black pepper, fresh-ground
red pepper flakes, crushed
garlic, minced (fresh or dried)


Obviously, the proportions are crucial, but here is enough information to develop your own. All herbs must be dried; fresh ones will not have enough savor.

I suggest mincing the garlic and letting it dry overnight. Use very little of it. Also, use very little of the red pepper flakes or you’ll be sorry for some of your guests. Use very little black pepper. Allow the first four ingredients to make the biggest impression (next to the olive oil, that is).

Use an excellent grade of extra-virgin olive oil. Of all your uses, this would be one where you shouldn’t skimp.

Obviously, this is little more than a waste of time if you don’t have good-quality, and best yet, warm bread. I suggest my recipe for pain de campagne. If the bread package lists sugar, eggs or milk as ingredients, you’ve got the wrong stuff for this appetizer.