When it comes to a meal, there are hundreds of ways you can jazz it up beyond salt. One of my favorite ways: herb oils. Beautiful in color, herb oils add a fantastic bit of flavor to so many recipes. I also love that herb oils are a great way to use up herbs you might not get to before they get sad.
While most ideas out there are for parsley oil, this technique works for all the soft herbs. There are recipes out there for the heartier herbs (thyme/rosemary) that call for blanching up to three minutes (if you want to use the stems). I find with those herbs I prefer to heat-infuse the oil with the herbs.
One note: you want the herbs to be fairly fresh/good flavor still. I like to make herb oils when I know I’m just not going to get to all the herbs before they lose flavor.
Uses for herb oils
The best part: uses are endless. Top your morning eggs or frittata with a bit of herb oil. The flavorful oils work well with grain bowls, risottos, polentas, tacos, enchiladas, etc. Anywhere you think a zip of herbs would work, try it out.Print
A simple herb oil infused with fresh, soft herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and/or chives.
2 cups lightly packed soft herbs (about 1 ½ oz with stems): parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, lovage, chives, mint, tarragon)
1/2 to 3/4 cup good olive oil (or neutral oil, like sunflower)
Salt, for the water
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Once the water is boiling, add the herbs and cook for about 15 seconds; just until the herbs/stems are bright green. Quickly transfer to the ice bath and let sit for 5 minutes to completely cool.
- Transfer the herbs to a dry tea towel and wrap/dry. The goal is to get as much moisture out of the herbs. Transfer the herbs to a high-speed blender and add the oil. Puree until as smooth as can be. This can work with a regular blender, but it’s not quite as effective. If the mixture feels too thick to blend, add a bit more oil.
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth (layered three times) or a coffee filter (I like to use my Chemex filter). Pour the oil into the sieve and let sit for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Do not press the oil through. Once done, transfer to a bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to a week (sometimes a little longer- keep an eye on it!)
- I choose to leave the stems on because I blend and strain well.
- Also, watch the timing- herbs blanch very quickly. Over blanching results in flavor loss. Some recipes call for 5 seconds while others call for 30 seconds. I’m more a fan of using your eyes and watching. The second the color in the stems brightens, transfer it to the ice.
- I like to use olive oil because I think the flavor of the herbs + oil is delightful. However, if you really want the herbs to shine, use good neutral oil.
Keywords: herb oil, parsley oil