October 13, 2011

Basil Oil

I bought basil last week simply because it was the end of summer and I thought I better get some before it was no longer available.  I had planned to make pesto with it, but lately I have been very good at starting recipes and then figuring out I don't have all the ingredients on hand.

I couldn't find pine nuts in my freezer.  I know people who've made pesto-like sauces with walnuts or pistachios, but the only nuts I had on hand were whole almonds.  I thought they would be too hard, not oily or soft enough, to make a good pesto.  (I remembered trying to make this peanut sauce with my food processor.  The taste was wonderful, but I couldn't get the peanuts to liquify like they were supposed to.  In reading the comments after the fact, maybe I needed to process them longer, but my meager little food processor seemed like it didn't want to go on.) So in my "pesto" I nixed the nuts and decided to just infuse some olive oil with the basil.  I think it was a good choice.

Basil Oil
Basil oil can be drizzled on bruschetta for holiday hors d'oeuvres or over scrambled eggs for Saturday breakfast.  It can also play nicely in a salad dressing or maybe even be used to fry rice for a Thai-inspired variation.   Makes 2 cups.

2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch basil, trimmed of any black parts, rinsed and dried in a salad spinner or with a towel
2 garlic cloves

Pour oil into a saucepan.  Tear or bruise basil leaves. Crush garlic cloves with the side of a chefs knife, remove the papery skin. Add basil and garlic to oil. Turn the heat to low or medium low.  Cover so that the basil can wilt into the oil.  Simmer, covered (or covered with the lid ajar), and do not allow to boil for 20 to 30 minutes.  Let cool.  Strain out the garlic and basil and pour oil into a storage vessel.


I have no idea what a safe storage time frame would be, as I have no prior experience with infused oils.  Does anyone know if this should be refrigerated?

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