This may be the garnish to end all garnishes. I remember feeling like I had just unlocked some illusive five star chef secret.
This simple little technique gives you magnificent, fragrant green gold to drizzle about a plate, swirl atop a bowl of soup (it floats!), and dunk very lucky crusty bread in. Seriously, this just smeared on a white plate, and you look like a superstar. Regular old oil becomes glistening emerald and is all things basil…or parsley or cilantro–it works for a variety of herbs. The oil will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. I’ve also frozen it in ice cube trays to defrost later in the year, to swirl on top of a creamy soup, or drizzle alongside some roasted salmon. But try this now, even to just dress up some sliced tomatoes. There is nothing better to guild the lily.
Makes approximately 1/4 cup
Note: You’ll want to use a mixture of oils here. The grape seed oil is much lighter and much more neutral in flavor, so it will best allow the basil flavor to come through. But adding a little olive oil to the mixture, gives it some heft and richness that will also compliment the food you are putting the oil on. The measurements can be approximate, but shoot for a 70/30 ratio. You’ll need enough oil to cover the leaves in the blender, somewhere between a quarter and a half of a cup.
1. Pour boiling water over the fresh herbs in large heatproof bowl. Let steep for thirty seconds.
2. Add ice and cold water to the bowl to stop the cooking of the leaves. This step preserves color.
3. Remove the herbs from the water and squeeze dry, then squeeze again, hard, with paper towels to remove as much water as possible.
4. Put blanched herbs in a blender. Pour in enough grape seed and olive oil to just cover the height of the leaves. Blend well for about a minute.
5. Pour pureed herb and oil mixture into sauce pan on medium heat. You will see a much brighter green color start to form on the outside rim of the pan as the particles of the herbs start to cook through. Stir gently, until the entire pan has changed to the brighter color, approximately 1-2 minutes. Do not let the oil boil or cook at too high a heat, and burn or fry the basil. Turn down if bubbling too rapidly. Use a large enough pot for over boil prevention.
6. Strain oil through fine strainer lined with several layers cheese cloth. Tip: Wet and wring out the cheesecloth before putting it into the strainer. This will rinse out any dust particles from the packaging, and the cloth, if saturated with water, will absorb less of the precious oil. Pour into squeeze bottle or glass bottle with a spout. Will keep in the refrigerator for about a week or can be frozen for several months, defrosted for a few hours in the refrigerator.
- Freezing Fresh Basil and Other Herbs (thebittenword.com)
- Basil or Sweet Basil (cookingwithspanky.net)
- Earthly pleasures (theage.com.au)
- Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes With Basil Oil (nytimes.com)