When I visited A Bolota, a lovely restaurant perched on the sweeping plains of the eastern Alentejo, this dip, called patê de azeitonas verdes, was brought to our table. As I nattered away with friends, I dipped, spread, and nibbled, until I realized I alone had eaten all of it. Later, when I became friendly with the cook, Ilda Vinagre, I watched her make it and was flummoxed when she whipped up its silky base: milk “mayonnaise”—whole milk whirred into a smooth consistency with the addition of vegetable oil. I serve this as a dip with a platter of crudités, alongside crackers or bread, or, sometimes, as a topping for grilled fish.–David Leite

Atenção [Editor’s Note: That means “attention”)

Don’t make this in a food processor. The bowls of most processors are too large to allow the scant amount of ingredients to whip up to the right consistency. A small narrow blender or a mini chop or handheld blender works best.

A bowl with creamy green olive dip behind five slices of baguette with dip on one.

Portuguese Green Olive Dip

5 / 8 votes
For this Portuguese green olive dip, olives are stirred into a whipped eggless ‘mayonnaise’ made with milk, oil, anchovies, garlic, and white pepper.
David Leite
Servings12 servings | 1 1/2 cups
Calories140 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • A small mini chop or hand blender


  • 1/3 cup whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 6 oil-packed anchovy filets
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • Leaves and tender stems of 6 cilantro sprigs
  • Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup pitted green olives such as Manzanilla, rinsed quickly if particularly salty, roughly chopped


  • In a blender, pulse to combine the 1/3 cup milk, anchovies, garlic, 2/3 of the cilantro, and the pepper.
  • With the motor running, pour the oil in what the Portuguese call a fio, or fine thread. Keep whirring until the oil is incorporated and the mixture thickens, 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, depending on your equipment.
  • Scrape the dip into a bowl and stir in the olives. Mince the remaining cilantro, sprinkle on top, and serve. If the dip thickens, you can always simply stir in a tablespoon or two of milk.
The New Portuguese Table by

Adapted From

The New Portuguese Table

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Serving: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 140 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 1 gFat: 15 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 3 mgSodium: 193 mgFiber: 0.3 gSugar: 0.4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 David Leite. Photo © 2009 Nuno Correla. All rights reserved.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. mmm i can’t wait to try this! i adore olives, and was just wondering what i was going to do with that whole stack of anchovy fillets that have been sitting in my pantry forever. thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  2. David, This looks absolutely divine. I adore olives. In an effort to make this without having to run out to the store—do you think something like a teaspoon of “fish sauce” could work here as a substitution for the anchovies? Just looking for a gluten free alternative…

    1. Hi Stephanie, to be completely honest, I don’t know. The anchovies do add body and, of course, flavor. You can try the fish sauce, but you’ll definitely need more oil. I’m curious, though: Where’s the gluten? Anchovies don’t contain gluten as a rule.

    2. David, you’re absolutely correct: they don’t contain gluten. I don’t have either anchovies or its paste at home and was just trying to come up with an alternative on the fly.

  3. While we loved the taste, my version came out kinda soupy. Any pointers on getting it to be thicker?

    1. Absolutely. Emulsions can be tricky. First, don’t skimp on the anchovies and garlic; they add body to the dip. Also, as with all emulsions, make sure to pour the oil very slowly, and if you have to buzz it a bit longer, not a problem. You may even need to add a bit more oil if you omitted the anchovies. Don’t rinse the olives too much, as the brine helps to thicken the dip, too. But I find what assures the best consistency time and time again is to use a handheld wand blender. Canister blenders or food processors are really too big.