Around this time of year, my herb garden begins to take on a life of its own. In other words, it’s out of control and then I feel out of control because seriously, what am I supposed to do with all of those herbs!? I used to get totally freaked out at the thought of wasting them. It felt like such a loss. The same loss I feel when a bunch of purchased, fresh herbs begin to look weepy and abandoned in my fridge. Well, weep no more. This everyday herb oil may be my all-time favorite kitchen hack/cooking tip.
I honestly can’t remember what gave me the idea to make large batches of herb oil–maybe it was my go-to ritual of making and freezing pesto to use up my basil bounty. What ever it was, I am grateful because these herb oils have become the foundation of so many recipes. The possibilities are endless.
There is something pretty special about the punch of flavor a fresh herb adds to a dish but it can be a full-time job keeping them on hand week to week. Not anymore. This herb oil is just as good, if not better than it’s fresh counterparts plus it is so simple to use. No need to remove the stems or chop the leaves–it is already done for you.
Here’s the deal. Making an herb oil is as simple as tossing a hearty handful of herbs and some olive oil into your blender. You can mix-and-match herbs or use single varieties. My very loose rule is that cilantro and dill tend to stand alone or, in other words, be mindful of what you mix them with. Otherwise, herbs like rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, chives, shallots and parsley–well they hang out really well together.
- Use what you have. Place your herbs and even the stems if they are delicate (I would avoid the stems of rosemary, oregano and thyme as they tend to me woody) in your blender or food processor.
- Add extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- Puree to a pesto-like consistency.
- Store in the fridge for up to one week or freeze in ice-cube trays for up to two months
While you can play it safe with single varieties of herbs, combining them creates a whole lot of flavor. A few noteworthy blends:
- Any combination of rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and parsley
- Either Cilantro, Dill, Tarragon or Basil + parsley and chives/scallion
I often add a few cloves of garlic or a shallot for an added boost of flavor.
Now What? This is where the magic happens! You have a stash of herb oil in the fridge or freezer and once you get the hang of it, you are going to use it with EVERYTHING. I currently have a batch of herb oil in my freezer and everytime I grab one of those gloriously green little cubes I smile. Seriously. I am a total dork when it comes to stuff like this–simple hacks that make cooking fun, easy and, of course, delish! One tray of cubes contains rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme while the other contains parsley, chives and basil. I can use either oil to:
- add flavor to a salad dressing or marinade
- season chicken, beef, pork or fish
- toss with root vegetables prior to roasting
- drizzle over cooked vegetables
- add to a soup, stew of chili base
Defrost the frozen herb oil in the morning so it is ready to use come dinner time. In a rush? Ten seconds in the microwave does the trick!
What is your favorite blend and how would you use it?