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Posted on Aug 20, 2015 |

Rita’s Recipe: Herbal Dipping Oil

Rita’s Recipe: Herbal Dipping Oil

A popular garden herb, rosemary has a pine-like taste and is a key ingredient in this dipping oil -- the type served at Italian restaurants.

A popular garden herb, rosemary has a pine-like taste and is a key ingredient in this dipping oil — the type served at Italian restaurants.


Nearly everyone had a “garden of herbs” which included seasonal vegetables and fruits, flowers, medicinal and culinary herbs and other useful plants.  And a wild type of rosemary is one of the herbs associated with those times.  Legend has it  that the Virgin Mary threw her blue cloak over a rosemary bush and the flowers, originally white, turned blue in honor of her.

Rosemary was used as a flavoring agent, and also used to keep meats safe, due to it’s antioxidant and preservative qualities. Rosemary helps prevent carcinogens from forming on grilled meats when it’s used in a marinade.

Rosemary has a pine-like flavor. And going back to the old days, its antibacterial qualities made it a popular strewing herb to clean floors and sick rooms. It also contains calcium, so adding that to an herbal tea will calm you down.

Shakespeare’s quote “Rosemary, that’s for remembrance” is well known.  Rosemary helps blood circulate to the brain, helping our memories, as well as helping reduce stress.


Like you find in Italian restaurants! Go to taste on this. Add more, or less, of any herb.  Wonderful paired with balsamic vinegar.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon each dry herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil or about a teaspoon fresh, minced
  • Dash red pepper flakes (optional, but good)

Pour olive oil into small saucepan or skillet.  Add herbs and spice.  Slowly cook until garlic is golden but not brown.  Pour into shallow bowl and surround with French, whole grain or Italian bread. Store leftovers in frig and use within a few days.

Why this recipe is good for you:

  • Olive oil is a healthy fat, one we should be using frequently.  Extra virgin is from the first cold pressing of the olives, and this oil has the most flavor and the least amount of acid.
  • Rosemary is full of antioxidants.  Also it’s great for your memory.
  • Thyme is like a medicine chest in a plant.  It’s antibacterial and is wonderful for your respiratory system.
  • Oregano, well that’s about the most healing herb on the planet. Good for your joints, and the immune system.
  • Basil has potassium and iron.
  • Whole grains have a lower glycemic index and your body absorbs them slower, so you don’t get a surge of carbs/sugar in your system.
  • Cayenne pepper is actually good for your tummy and is used in some topical creams for sore muscles.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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