Combine good-quality extra-virgin olive oil with fresh herbs, spices and citrus of your choice to create a delicious infusion. Toss your finished flavored olive oils with a green salad, drizzle on tomatoes or grilled vegetables, or use as a dipping sauce for crusty bread — the possibilities are endless. Here are two combinations to try first, then get creative with your own favorite seasonings!
Chile-Lemon Olive Oil
2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large lemons
3 or 4 dried whole chiles
1 bay leaf
Have ready a hot, sterilized bottle.
Pour the olive oil into a small nonreactive saucepan. Working directly over the pan, grate the zest from the lemons, letting it fall into the oil. Add the chiles and the bay leaf. Clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers 200ºF (95ºC). Cook at 200º-225ºF (95º-110º C) for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Using a funnel, pour the oil into the bottle. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.
Orange-Rosemary Oil: Follow the recipe above, substituting the zest from 1 orange for the lemon zest and 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed and patted dry, for the chiles.