Mmm, tasty oil! There are two ways to add delicious flavours to your oil; flavouring by infusion and flavouring by cooking. Infusion can take quite a while but, for delicately flavoured oil such as basil, it’s the only way. It’s also much better suited to drizzling as it has fresher flavours. Creating flavoured oil by cooking, on the other hand, can be done as an adjunct to normal cooking to provide a steady supply and allows a rich palette of vegetable flavours such as roasted onion oil or roasted aubergine oil.
Basic infusion recipe
I recommend olive for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, sesame for Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cuisine and vegetable oil if you’re experimenting with odd flavours! Other fragrant oils such as walnut, argan, hazelnut, etc. can also be great to play around with, especially for dressings.
You will need:
- approx. 500 ml oil
- Herbs or spices (these are generally best used dry as damp ingredients will significantly reduce the shelf life)
Place the dry herbs/spices in a clean 500 ml bottle and pour the oil over the top until the bottle is full. Put the bottle in a dark place and leave for a month. Your oil is now ready to be used! If you use dry ingredients you should be able to expect a shelf life of at least a year, at least in temperate England!
French style pizza oil
You’ll find some variation of this infused oil on the table of every pizzeria in France. Absolutely delicious on pizza, not a whole lot of use elsewhere! Be daring with the chillies – you’ll use the oil sparingly anyway as it’s very flavoursome.
- 500 ml olive oil
- 1 tsp whole allspice
- 2 tsp whole white peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- a handful of small, hot, dried chillies (birds-eye are perfect)
Basic flavoured oil by cooking
This is a very simple method to create delicious oil. When you come to roast vegetables (for a lasagne, for instance), add a bit more oil to the roasting tray than you really need. After you’ve roasted your vegetables, collect the excess oil – it should have a rich and delicious flavour. This oil will almost certainly have absorbed some water, so use it up quickly!
Note that there isn’t much point in adding it to the dish that you’ve just roasted the veg for; you won’t notice much of a difference! Instead, save it for tomorrow’s dinner.