We love to combine herbs and oils to create infused oils. Basil oil is the infused oil we use the most. It looks great drizzled over the top of any food or on the plate in a circle around the food. The scallion infused oil is used widely in Hong Kong and adds another level of flavor to any dish.–Jane and Myles Lamberth
LC A Funner (Funnier?) Way To Make Chile Oil Note
We’re quite taken with infused oils for several reasons. The jewel-like hues. The resoundingly pure flavors. The ridiculous ease with which they can be made. The nostalgia that overwhelms us each time we glance at our stash of oils kept in lovely bottles. But we gotta admit, we love one infused oil more than the rest. Well, actually, we love one of the tips the authors shared more than the rest. You ready for this? It pertains to the chile infused oil explained in the recipe below. “A funner way to make chile oil,” say Jane and Myles Lamberth, “is to open up a glass bottle of oil, pour a little out, and pop in your split dried chiles. Screw the top back on tightly and put it through the dishwasher at 175º to 195ºF (80º to 90ºC). Voila! Chile oil!” We tested this technique, as we do all our recipes, and we gotta say, it is a funner—not to mention funnier—way to make chile oil. So go on, infuse with confidence.
For the Basil Infused Oil
- 1 large bunch basil (about 3 1/2 cups loosely packed basil leaves)
- 2 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Scallion Infused Oil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup sunflower (or substitute 1 more cup olive oil)
- 4 scallions or spring onions trimmed and thinly sliced
For the Chile Infused Oil
- 5 dried chiles any type, split down the middle
- 2 cups peanut oil or sunflower oil
- 1/4 cup toasted (dark) sesame oil
For the Super Green Healthy Oil
- 1 bunch watercress chopped
- 1 3/4 cups olive oil
- Pinch salt
For the Curry Infused Oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 3/4 cups sunflower oil or peanut oil
Make the Basil Infused Oil
- Blend the ingredients together for at least 3 minutes with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender. Pour the oil into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate.
Make the Scallion Infused Oil
- Heat the oils in a small pot until nice and hot. Throw in a piece of spring onion or scallion, and if it quickly sizzles it’s ready. Throw in all the chopped spring onions or scallions and cook for 30 seconds. Take the oil off the heat, let it cool, and then pour it into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate. Spoon the oil onto your lunch. This goes great with cold meats and fish.
Make the Chile Infused Oil
- Put the chiles in a saucepan and pour in the oils. Gradually heat through. Don’t overheat or it will taste bitter. Take the oil off the heat, let it cool, and then pour it into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate.
Make the Super Green Healthy Oil
- Blend the ingredients together with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender until you have a vibrant, thick green oil. Looks fantastic! Pour into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate.
Make the Curry Infused Oil
- Toast all the spices in a hot, dry pan for just a few minutes. Let cool slightly, then put them into a mortar and crush to a pulp with a pestle or whiz them with an immersion blender or in a spice grinder. Meanwhile heat the oil gently. Pour in the mixed spices and stir. Allow to cool. Pour into a sterilized bottle and refrigerate.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These infused oils run the gamut from simple to nearly exotic. I used dried chipotle peppers and peanut oil for the Chile Oil, and the smoke flavor from the peppers is outstanding. Next, I really LOVE the Curry Oil. It has a very exotic and rich flavor. (My only suggestion is when you toast the spices, heat your skillet first, then add your spices, remove the skillet from the heat, and toss them around in the skillet. Cooking them for 3 minutes is far too long and will most likely burn the spices. You should also be aware that when you do toast the spices, they may cause a bit of discomfort to your lips and may even take your breath away for an instant.) Saving the best for last, the Basil Oil is absolutely STUNNING. I used a bit more than 4 cups loosely packed leaves. The flavor of this infused oil is so clean and refreshing, I am completely at a loss to adequately describe it. I found myself experimenting with various things to dip, and one of my favorite discoveries was apple slices. OH MY.
These infused oils are wonderful. The flavor of each oil is unique, but light and fresh-tasting and very versatile. Whether you drizzle some on your salad, scrambled eggs, sandwich, steak, veggies, or bread, you will not be disappointed. All five of these oil recipes are delicious and take only a few minutes to prepare. The hard part was waiting for them to cool before I used them. The oils themselves are a snap to put together and would make fantastic gifts. When I made the infused oil with basil, my bunch of herbs measured 3 1/2 loosely packed cups. I urge caution with the immersion blender, as a shallow bowl will release oil splatter. (I found this out the hard way. Next time I’ll use a tall, cylindrical bowl to keep splatters in the oil, not on my shirt.)
I used five chile de árbol pods to make the Chile Oil. The sesame oil gave the finished oil an Asian flavor. For the Curry Oil, it took about 5 minutes in a spice grinder to get the spices ground to a pulp. It was well worth the effort, as this oil offers a warm, fall-like flavor.
I made 2 jars of the Chile Infused Oil. I chose to use the dishwasher method—the family thought I’d lost it about here. I combined the sunflower and sesame oils then I divided the oil between 2 jars. I added 5 chiles de árbol to 1 jar, and in the second jar I added 3 chiles negros. (I only used 3 chiles negros, as they were very large.) The oil had changed color when I removed the jars from the dishwasher after a cycle. I let the oils blend flavors overnight. The jar with the chiles de árbol was hotter in taste, while the one with the chiles negros was milder. I do wonder if toasting the chiles might make a difference to the final taste. I might try that next time. The Scallion Oil was delicate and tasted faintly of onion. It was nice to use in a light salad dressing. I found the taste of the Basil Oil to be somewhat weak, though it did improve slightly with time. I used 1 bunch basil and found it gave me just shy of 3 cups loosely pack leaves. I would use 2 bunches of basil for a stronger basil taste when I make this infused oil next time.
I made the Scallion Infused Oil variation. I chose it because it’s widely used in Hong Kong and it sounded to me like it would also go well with non-animal proteins such as tofu or tempeh—and I was correct! I do wonder, however, if the sunflower oil could be substituted with peanut oil to give it a more Asian feel? Conversely, I wonder if one could keep the oil combination intact and use leeks or red onions instead? Either way, this is a quick and easy way to add flavor and interest to a meal, with little time and effort, and no complicated ingredients. Because this variation was such a success, I look forward to playing with the others—sooner rather than later!
I’ve always liked the idea of infusing liquors or oils with herbs, but had yet to try it until making this Scallion Infused Oil. Now that I know the basic method, I’ll be making infused oil with abandon. The amount of flavor was shocking given how little time the herbs spent in the oil. I also added some garlic scapes that I’d bought from my farmers’ market because my scallions were on the slender side. I added the scapes 30 seconds earlier than the scallions, since they were substantial and tend to have a more pungent flavor. I tried it on unimpressive bread to get the oil’s full effect and would definitely add it atop fish and meat as suggested. I’ll be trying the Chile Oil next, as I often make recipes that call for it. My only concern is that when an oil is heated, it tends to lose many of its flavor compounds, which is why I’d never cook with my best olive oil. Though this oil certainly wasn’t lacking in flavor, I wonder if there’s an alternative—perhaps heating the herbs separately or in a small amount of oil, and then adding it to unheated oil? Or perhaps it doesn’t matter since the herb takes over.
I was intrigued with the idea of making infused oil and having them on hand to add to recipes for a dash of flavor or just a little something extra special. I grabbed a bunch of basil from my garden and after washing and removing the leaves from the stems I had about 2 1/2 cups. I put all the ingredients in the blender and with a push of button the oil was complete. There was this intoxicating smell—pesto popped immediately to mind—and I funneled the infused oil into a bottle and then grabbed a piece of bread and sopped up the sides of the blender. This will become a favorite, I believe.
This past weekend, we put together sort of a flavored oil tasting. For the Basil Infused Oil, I used about 4 cups of loosely packed basil. This went well with a very robust olive oil that we had on hand. The final result was an infused oil that was fairly intense and wonderful when mixed with pasta, fresh tomatoes, yellow peppers, and feta for a quick pasta salad. The Scallion Oil was perfect spooned on some leftover halibut. I think this would be good with just a couple of drops of dark sesame oil added, especially if you’re using it with Asian food. This would be perfect with pot stickers or spring rolls. For the Chile Oil, I used some dried pasilla chiles , dried guajillo chiles, and one that I had labeled “dried New Mexico chiles.” Someone had given these New Mexican chiles to me—they may have been dried Hatch chiles. The result was a medium-hot oil with an earthy undertone. I was afraid that the amount of sesame oil was going to be too much, but after tasting the final product, I don’t think so. I haven’t used this one yet, but plan to try it in a stir-fry.
I’m in love not only with this easy, no-cook, infused oil recipe, but also just the overall method. It makes me think about what else I can purée into a similar type of oil. I love the peppery flavor of watercress and often use it to add a splash of color and a healthy bite to a plate. I often have watercress in the fridge, so this recipe really stood out to me. I actually used my mini-prep food processor to blend the ingredients together into the thick consistency rather than a blender or hand blender as the recipe suggests. The ingredient list didn’t say whether or not to use the stems and the leaves of the watercress, so I used both. The oil came out wonderfully thick, very tasty, and the color blew me away–it was very vibrant and a great way to add color to a dish. I actually used the infused oil as a sauce on grilled chicken cutlets—a healthy way to brighten up the plate. I would also like to try this oil on a grilled flank steak, with shrimp over brown rice, or maybe even tossed with fusilli pasta or with cheese ravioli. I can also see this working well with a brunch dish, maybe on scrambled or poached eggs? I really loved this healthful oil recipe and will be making it again very soon. I bet baby arugula would also work well…
Ahhh the flavors of summer. A great flavor enhancer, this Basil Infused Oil brightens a grilled fish or chicken, a Caprese salad, or some favorite standby recipes. I used 2 cups basil leaves and enjoyed the flavor. More or less can be used depending on one’s personal tastes. I love the flavor of curry (or shall I say curries, given the tremendous diversity of this delicious spice blend). This Curry Oil is a great addition to chicken salad. Our salad consisted of a bed of fresh greens (organic baby kale, spinach, and collard greens) topped with chicken salad made using the curry-infused oil, sweet onions, dried apricots, and toasted almonds. A delightful summer lunch, indeed. This lovely oil would be great on a tossed salad and could be used as a component in marinades.
Originally published May 04, 2014