Portuguese Green Olive Dip

For this Portuguese green olive dip, olives are stirred into a whipped eggless ‘mayonnaise’ made with milk, oil, anchovies, garlic, and white pepper.

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.

Portuguese Green Olive Dip

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

Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins
Appetizer
Portuguese
5 / 6 votes
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Equipment

  • A small mini chop or hand blender

Ingredients 

  • 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

Directions
 

  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the The New Portuguese Table cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Originally published December 29, 2020

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Comments

  1. When I first saw this recipe I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it. Then I kept seeing it on the side bar…the picture looked SO good! Still, I was a bit intimidated. I whipped this together this morning using a hand blender and a two cup capacity glass measuring cup. It’s really good!

    At first I thought the mixture would never emulsify. It stayed pretty loose until about two-thirds of the oil was in. I think I may have poured the oil in too slowly. All the sudden it was thick, and all the oil wasn’t in yet. I ended up adding a few teaspoons more of milk and was done.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Mr. Leite!

    1. Casey, I’m so glad you tried the dip. Emulsifications can be tricky, until you’ve tried a few. But you did it perfectly. Using a hand blender is how I get the absolute best results. And you did exactly as I do: stop just as the right texture is reached. You may have some oil left over, you may need a bit more. Each time is different. I hope you make the dip many more times.

  2. I made this dip for a dinner party a couple of weeks ago. I found this recipe last minute and didn’t make it first to try, so I was slightly hesitant. I found the ingredients easily, even though it was a last minute idea. It started the night off perfectly! Everyone was so excited by it. The anchovies and green olives weren’t overwhelming, yet loud enough to be so very tasty. All I heard for 1/2 an hour was “yum, yum, yum.” We served it with a Pinot Grigio, which went well. This dip was a breeze to make. I want to do it a few more times to get it just right. I need to drizzle the olive oil even more slowly, so as to get a thicker consistency. I look forward to the practice. Thanks for stimulating my taste buds and for the inspiration!

    1. Sarai, so glad you liked it. Yes pouring in the oil slowly and giving it more time to whip up time helps consistency. Also I find that If I don’t rinse the olives, it makes the dip thicker, but it can have a slightly salty/briny edge to it.

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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. 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.

    2. 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.

    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.

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