Lots of recipes these days call for flavored oils. They add a punch of flavor for not a lot of extra ingredients. But the commercial ones can be expensive, and you may only use a little bit, so the rest might go to waste. We at “On the Cheap” are all about not wasting things — especially expensive ingredients.
So how about we start with making our own flavored oils? It’s sooooo easy. Then we’ll give you some recipes for using them. Recipes for oils can be halved or more, so you have less oil to use up. No waste.
Flavored oils come in lots of varieties — spicy, pungent, tart, even sweet.
Ina Garten’s recipe for garlic oil has only two ingredients. You guessed it. Garlic and olive oil. Giadi de Laurentis’ recipe for chili oil also has just two (obvious) ingredients. And here’s her video on how to make pepperoncini oil. Alton Brown’s herb oil has a handful of ingredients, but is equally easy to make.
You can find lots of possible combinations — like lemon AND garlic, lemon AND herbs, etc. Look for ideas and and directions on food.com.
The Bon Appetit website also has great tips for choosing which oil you might prefer, and endless suggestions for combination to make, as well as description of both cold infusion and heat infusion methods.
There are literally dozens of websites on this topic. Just do a search for “flavored oils.”
(Just remember when using fresh ingredients, such as herbs or lemon peel, the additions need to be strained out for long-term storage. Otherwise, they may keep for a month, refrigerated. Before using, let it sit out at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.)
Now you have your oils, what do you do with them?
Well, it doesn’t get much simpler than Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic. Try this recipe from the Food Network for a quick (and really cheap) weeknight meal. Add a salad and you’re in business.
Well, perhaps pair shrimp and pasta with lemon oil for a company-worthy dinner. The recipe tells you how to make the lemon oil as well as the rest of this easy but show-stopping dish.
Or try this recipe for everyone’s favorite — roast chicken.
Roast Chicken with Lemon-Parsley Oil
1 (3-4-pound) chicken cut into 8 serving pieces (or buy bone-in pieces separately, already cut up, totaling about 3-4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil, for drizzling
The rind of ½ lemon, zested
½ bunch parsley
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken. Place the chicken pieces in an 11-by-13-inch baking pan, or any pan they fit in without crowding. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt, pepper, olive oil, the herbs, and the lemon zest. Toss with the seasonings and arrange the chicken pieces skin side up in the pan.
For the parsley drizzle, wash and dry the parsley. Remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves finely. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and set aside to use as garnish for the roast chicken when it’s done.
Roast chicken pieces until the skin is nicely browned, there is no pink near the thigh bone and the juices run clear, about 40 to 45 minutes, depending upon the size of the pieces. Check both white meat and dark meat. If the white meat is done before the dark meat, take it out and set it (covered) on the serving plate until the dark meat is done.
While chicken is hot, brush parsley drizzle over each piece before serving.
Serves about 4-6 people.
Other suggested uses for flavored oils includes using them in your homemade salad dressing (another on-the-cheap tip) or to drizzle them over bruschetta or an appetizer plate. Serve them as a dipping sauce for bread. Or brush them on when sauteing or grilling a chicken breast, shrimp or a piece of fish, such as salmon, adding great flavor to possibly bland proteins. Think about garlic and rosemary oil on lamb chops, for example.
Flavored oils also can be add great addition to plain vegetables, such as steamed broccoli, fresh green beans or roasted asparagus. Try this recipe for broiled tomatoes when they’re summer-ripe. Double the recipe as many times as needed.
Herb Broiled Tomatoes
3 large plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces), halved lengthwise
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil blended with
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, rosemary, oregano, summer savory or marjoram
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Season tomatoes with salt and place cut-side down on a rack or paper towel to drain for about 30 minutes. Blot dry with a paper towel.
Line a broiler pan with foil. Place on an oven rack in the upper part of the oven and preheat the broiler. Place the tomato halves on the prepared pan, cut-side up, and season with pepper to taste. Spread olive oil with herbs over the top of each. Broil until hot and the tops begin to brown, about eight minutes.
Top with cheese and broil until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Serves 2 or 3 halves per person as a side dish.
Finally, put your flavored oil in a pretty bottle and give it as a hostess gift. Who wouldn’t prefer that to a handful of grocery store flowers, right? It’s more thoughtful, more fun and cheaper, too!