Test Kitchen tips: Infused oils
Infused oils are perfect for lending an extra layer of flavor to a dish, whether adding to salad dressings or vinaigrettes, cooking with it, or drizzling it over a completed dish as a finishing touch. And while you can find a variety of infused oils at your local store, they can be so easy to make at home.
Recipes and methods vary, but infused oils are essentially nothing more than oils that have been steeped with a flavoring, such as fresh herbs or spices. For a quick herb-infused oil, add a handful of fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, chives, etc.) to a couple cups of oil and pulse in a blender or food processor until the herbs are coarsely chopped, then strain the oil before using. For a spice-infused oil, toast a tablespoon or two of spices before adding to a couple cups of oil, or gently heat the oil and spices on the stove over low heat until the spice flavors permeate the oil, then strain before using.
Keep in mind that herbs and spices will continue to flavor an oil until they are removed; you can leave the flavorings in, but the flavor will intensify as the oil sits. Bland or neutral oils, like grapeseed and vegetable oils, will allow an infused flavoring to shine more than a strong oil, such as olive or sesame oil.
Keep your infused oils refrigerated when not in use. Fresh herb-infused oils should keep for a few days, up to a week; spice-infused oils can keep up to a few weeks.
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-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Chile oil (click here for recipe). Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times