A delicious guide to dips and dressings
To turn a boring dish into an explosion of flavours... Try our selected dips and dressings!
Join us as we dive into the world of homemade dips and dressings.
Today we’re talking about dips. No, not the dips that leave your triceps quivering, and not the dips that the day-trading gurus insist you must buy your way through - we’re talking about delicious dressings and sumptuous sauces.
Dips and dressings are wonderful things. Done right, they hold the power to elevate an already-awesome dish to delicious new heights, to push your meal’s palate into a wider world of flavour. So please join us as we explore the world of homemade dips and dressings.
Years in the making
Humans have been creating dips and dressings to accompany their meals for millennia. Nearly 2,000 years ago the Babylonian empire used oils and vinegar for dressing up their salads and, before that, the ancient Egyptians favoured a salad dressed with oils mixed with Asian spices. More recently, a little over two centuries ago, the mighty mayonnaise is believed to have made its debut, discovered by a French nobleman.
But until we reached the 1900s, there were no neatly packaged and pre-prepared sauces, dips or dressings for people to rely on - everything was made from scratch, totally handcrafted and mouthwateringly fresh. Today, this DIY approach to dips and dressings is making something of a comeback.
Dips and dressings come in all different shapes, sizes and flavours. Over the years of food exploration, our team has had the pleasure of trying a bit of everything - the hot and the cold, the sweet and the savoury...the good, the bad and the delicious! So, as self-appointed experts in the arena, we've taken it upon ourselves to gather a collection of do-it-yourself dipping sauces and dressings for you to try at home!
The Spanish Classics
Romesco is a tomato-based sauce that originated from Tarragona, Catalonia. The fishermen in this area handcrafted this sauce to complement the seafood from their daily catch. Popular variations often include a mixture of roasted tomatoes and garlic, toasted almonds, olive oil, and nyora peppers. If you’ve yet to try it, imagine taking an Italian marinara sauce and embellishing it with the character of Spanish coastal cuisine.
La Española’s Romesco sauce recipe brings together ground almonds and breadcrumbs in a food processor with garlic, peppers, paprika, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, topped off with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As it’s absolutely dreamy alongside seafood, we love to present our Romesco sauce with deep-fried calamari - get the recipe here!
While the two are almost synonymous today, a true aioli used to be quite different from mayonnaise. In many parts of the mediterraniann, a traditional aioli recipe would involve the emulsification of just olive oil and garlic alone, mixed by hand in a mortar and pestle - no egg, no lemon, just two ingredients mashed into a creamy garlicky paste.
These days, the term aioli is widely accepted in reference to any mayonnaise-style mixture, usually when there’s something extra added - like garlic or paprika. If you’re looking for a dip that’s a little bit different then try our Truffle Aioli or our Saffron Aioli.
Aioli is an emulsion, which means it involves forcing something oil-based to blend with something water-based. This also means that the tiny beads of olive oil that we work so hard to hold in suspension can sometimes fall, causing the mixture to separate or ‘break’. When this happens, don’t throw away your broken mixture - if you slowly pour the separated ingredients back into a little bit of water while whisking then it should all emulsify once more to give the desired light and fluffy texture.
Dips around the world
While we’re on the topic of dips and dressings, here’s a list of notable mentions from our travels around the world...
This Turkish-inspired spicy dip is made with red peppers, walnuts, lemon, garlic and sumac. Perfect with warm pita and meats like chicken or fish, it will sit proudly amidst any Mezze platter.
The secret to this sumptuously smoky side is to grill the avocados before you mix them. Mix in a little coriander and some lime juice for a zesty twist. Oh, and make plenty of it - it’s going to be popular!
This variant of Baba Ganoush swaps the aubergine for courgette (or ‘zucchini’ if you’re in the US, which is where the name comes from!). This dip is perfect for trying an old classic in a new way, or if you’re trying to use only local and in-season ingredients.
French Onion Dip
Forget using the ‘soup mix’ shortcuts, we are talking about the real deal. For an A-grade onion dip it is well worth the effort of caramelising the onions yourself. Top tip? Add a splash of sherry to make it extra special.
What more could you want? Creamy cheese, loaded with spicy chorizo sausage, topped with fresh coriander, tomatoes and jalapeños makes Queso Chorizo the ultimate ‘oh go on then’ of irresistible dips.
When it comes to the nation’s most popular dips, this middle-Eastern masterpiece is always a fan fave. As versatile and varied in its uses as it is in its spelling, there are some many options for houmous fans. La Española even has its own houmous recipe - come check out our Houmous bowl with Crispy Kale and Chorizo!
This greek number brings together all the best bits of natural yoghurt, mint, garlic, cucumber and citrus fruit and puts them into one delicious dip. It’s the perfect accompaniment for slow-cooked lamb.
Now, if you’re thinking that the preparation of dips is all going to be too much effort, then don’t worry - they’re all super simple to make. But there is something even simpler, and it is equally as delicious...
Olive Oil Dipping and Dressing
Sometimes for the best dips and dressings, all you need is olive oil. Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil if we’re being specific! Olive Oil can be both beautifully simple and simply beautiful at the same time. But the important thing to remember is choosing the right oil for the job! It would be heartbreaking to see a well-presented meal, made with love and bursting with flavour, lessened by the inclusion of the wrong oil.
So what olive oil to choose?
Well, for dipping and dressing, it’s got to be extra virgin. Even within the world of extra virgin olive oil there are options for you to choose one that is right for you. But before you leave to pick up some olive oil and plan your next DIY dip, take a minute to explore our recommended oils for dipping and dressing from the La Española range:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bold and beautiful, La Española Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds full and fruity flavours and aromas to your meal, alongside a slight peppery pungency. Use La Española Extra Virgin Olive Oil to experience a delicate spice and pleasant bitterness on the tongue as the flavours flow into a lingering finish.
See more: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
La Española Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is where 'feel good’ meets ‘taste good’. Featuring complex top notes of cracked black pepper and wild fruit, your meals will benefit from a perfect blend of soft spice and mellow bitterness. This 100% organic olive oil is proudly fresh, extremely aromatic, and dutifully well-balanced from first pour through to the long-lasting, full-bodied finish.
See more: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Gourmet Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Intensely golden in colour with a smooth velvety texture, La Española Gourmet Extra Virgin Olive Oil brings a new level of luxury to your table. Every pour affords an ambrosial aroma of ripe fruit with tomato and avocado. Outstanding sweet flavours follow with a delicate touch of bitterness over a very moderate amount of warmth.
See more: Gourmet Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Join the conversation
Did you like our blog? Have you got your own ideas on dips and dressings that you’d like to share? Come join the conversation on social media. Remember, if you’re posting about La Española, don’t forget to tag us so we can see! You can find us on Facebook and Instagram!