When I visited A Bolota, a lovely restaurant perched on the sweeping plains of the eastern Alentejo, this dip, called pate 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 crudites, alongside crackers or bread, or, sometimes, as a topping for grilled fish.—David Leite
Note: 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.
1/3 cup whole milk, more if needed
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 small garlic clove
Leaves and tender stems of 6 fresh 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
Add the 1/3 cup milk, anchovies, garlic, two thirds of the cilantro, and the pepper to a blender and pulse to combine. 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 serving bowl and stir in the olives. Mince the remaining cilantro, sprinkle on top, and serve. If the dip thickens, stir in a tablespoon or two of milk.
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