Olive Dip – Epityrum
Epityrum was originally a Greek dip, which was adopted by the Romans. There are two recipes that survive, quoted in Cato (De Agricultura 119), and Columella (De Re Rustica 12:49:5 and 12:49:9), as well as mentioned as a common dip in Sicily by Varro (De Lingua Latina 7:86). The word Epityrum means “Over Cheese”, because the Greeks and the Romans ate this dip or paste together with cheese. This is a great dip to serve during the Passover Seder as an authentic dip to dip Matza (Unleavened Bread) and Maror (Bitter Herbs) into. The specific recipe below for Epityrum is based on Columella (12:49:5).
Servings Prep Time
4people 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 15minutes
Ingredients
  • 1cup Green OlivesPitted
  • 1tbsp LeekRaw
  • 1tsp RosemaryLeaves, Fresh
  • 0.5tbsp ParsleyLeaves
  • 8leaves MintFresh
  • 1.5tbsp Wine Vinegar
  • 0.5tsp Black PepperCoarsely Ground
  • 2tsp HoneyLiquid
  • 2tbsp Olive OilExtra Virgin
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until a finely chopped mixture is achieved.
  2. For a more authentic experience and texture, instead of using the food processor, finely chop the olives, leek, rosemary, parsley, and mint and mix with wine vinegar, black pepper, honey and olive oil.
Recipe Notes

In this recipe, Rue, which can be poisonous, was replaced by Rosemary leaves.

For a more authentic taste use the following ingredients:

  1. Wine vinegar from Spain, either Sherry or Sweet Moscatel, which have a stronger taste, or Sweet Pedro Ximenez vinegar, which has a milder taste. All of the above mentioned vinegars are made based on recipes closer to what the Romans would have used. A very good brand of Spanish wine vinegars is Los Villares, which can be purchased in Whole Foods Supermarkets throughout the US.
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece, especially Crete. Just like wines, olive oil taste varies based on the variety of olives used and the region where they were grown. The Romans imported the majority of their olive oil from Greece, which was considered to be of the highest quality. A few different brands of Greek olive oil can be purchased in Whole Foods Supermarkets throughout the US.
  3. Green olives from Greece, usually of Chalkidiki (Halkidiki) Chondroelia variety, that come from Chalkidiki region, near Mt. Athos in Northern Greece. Divina and Delallo are good brands that are sold in Whole Foods and other supermarkets in the US. For more information on olive varieties available for sale in the US see FoodMatch.com. Chalkidiki variety dates back to the 15th century and is not an original olive variety that the Ancient Romans and Greeks would have eaten. But it tastes very good and is grown in the same region as where the best olives in the Roman empire came from.
  4. Souri green olives from Israel. This olive variety dates to thousands of years ago, and is one of the original olive varieties that were available in Israel during the Roman period. This variety originates in Lebanon near the city of Tyre (Tzur), but due to Arabic pronunciation of Tzur as Sur, they became known as Souri. In Israel today, they are called Suri (סורי), which means Syrian Olives, instead of Tsuri (צורי), Tyrian Olives. It should be noted that Souri olives are very bitter. There are a few brands from Israel today that sell these olives in metal cans, however they have imparted metal taste from the cans, and should not be used for any of the authentic recipes. A relatively good brand of gourmet Israeli Souri olives sold in glass jars is called Oxygen. It can be purchased online at MakoletOnline.com.