There are less than two weeks left before Christmas. Are you excited or are you in a panic for all the items yet to be crossed off the list? Are you hosting a holiday party this year?
My kitchen isn’t usually abuzz with activity this time of year since other family members host Christmas. I cook a dish or two for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but otherwise, it stays relatively quiet…usually.
What’s kept me busy lately is bread. I prepared a large batch of starter dough recently. Good for several batches of homemade, rustic loaves, I’ve been kneading away in the kitchen on my days off, timing my errands around the first and second rise of the dough. The process of baking bread can be time-consuming, to be sure, but there is something so satisfying about pulling that loaf out of the oven and hearing the bread crackle as it cools. I will share the recipe for starter dough I’ve been using, as well as the breads my husband and I have been enjoying in upcoming posts.
For now, here’s a ridiculously easy dip you can put together in minutes out of ingredients you most likely already have. I came across Michael Chiarello’s Salsa di Parmigiano in my Pinterest feed and promptly made a beeline for my kitchen to make it. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the gracious Mr. Chiarello and dining at his Bottega restaurant during a wine country weekend with friends last year (post and pictures here) and I’ve always been a fan of Tra Vigne (he was the Executive Chef for many years). In fact, his recipe is what made me fall in love with gnocchi. I was sure his simple salsa would hit all the right notes with me, too.
Olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Manchego, oregano, scallions, crushed red pepper and garlic: this is all you will need to create the perfect dip for your fresh bread. The original recipe which I found in Alexandra’s Kitchen uses Asiago cheese but I used Manchego with great results. I also used fresh oregano because it was what I had.
I wonder why it has never occurred to me to make this before. I tend to sneak in a little Parmigiano in my saucer of olive oil whenever I’m in an Italian restaurant. No matter, I’m very happy to have this in my life now. This Parmesan Dip would be perfect on bruschetta (toasted Italian bread) or fresh-from-the-oven bread like I’ve done here. Prepare it ahead of time because the flavors really come together after a few hours. Wouldn’t this be the ideal dip for a holiday get-together? It’s takes almost no effort to put together so you’ll be free to focus on other holiday to-dos.
* Stay tuned for the starter dough and bread recipes in upcoming posts!
* I just eyeballed the ingredients, this not an exact science, but here is the link to the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen.
The Recipe is very flexible on proportions. Use equal parts Parmigiano and Manchego, about a block of Parmigiano is a good amount, 2-3 cloves garlic, as much red pepper flakes as you’d like, a teaspoon or two each of fresh oregano and chopped scallions, freshly ground pepper and as much olive oil that will cover the cheese. Pulse the cheeses in a food processor until they’re in small pieces then stir into all the other ingredients. Adjust proportions according to your taste.