Have you ever wondered about all the different oils available now? Using flavored and specialty oils are a way to add depth and dimension to your cooking without a lot of fuss. Some of flavored oils on the market are infused olive oils, so these can be used in place of plain olive oil. The flavor is very light, not overpowering. I use enough garlic infused oil that I have a special cruet for it, with olives on painted on the sides. All of these were gifts from my dear husband, who likes to indulge me in the kitchen probably because he gets to eat the results. A long time ago, I made a rosemary infused oil at home, I don’t know why I haven’t done that in a while.
First, any of the infused cooking oils or finishing oils can be used in salad dressing. Adding a basil or truffle oil to a balsamic vinegar makes a flavor boosted dressing that will earn you praises, as everyone tries to figure out why your dressing is so much more delicious.
Basil oil is a natural fit as a drizzle on a Caprese salad.
You can even think about adding a bit of truffle oil or toasted sesame oil to egg salad. This is my Chipotle Avocado Egg Salad Wrap recipe.
I often use garlic infused oil instead of plain olive oil to saute onions to begin a dish.
In this meal, I add fresh spinach on top of the translucent onions, cover and cook for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.
Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve. This is a really fast side dish.
I discovered grapeseed oil recently, and love it for sauteing when I don’t want to add any additional flavor to a dish. It has a high smoke point which makes it wonderful for high heat sauteing or stir frying. This time, I made veal meatballs, where even extra virgin olive oil would change the flavor of the delicate veal. Grapeseed is a ‘neutral’ oil, meaning that it doesn’t add any flavor of its own, allowing the natural flavor of the food to be appreciated.
Using just a drizzle on the bottom of the pan, brown the meatballs.
Then remove them from the pan and make a roux with the pan juices and flour. Cook the flour for a minute or two, then add milk to make the gravy. Mushrooms can be added, then place the meatballs in the gravy, and top off with some chopped green onions. I served this with rice, and it would also be good with wide egg noodles.
Ever make your own pizza at home? Try brushing the crust with basil oil.
This time I used a fully prepared crust, lightly brushing the top with basil oil.
Then add the toppings you like. This pizza had Canadian bacon and fresh tomatoes with green onions.
I added sausage, mushrooms and double mozzarella then baked as usul. Yum!
Garlic oil is what I reach for with pasta most of the time. Putting a small drizzle on cooked pasta keeps it from sticking together and adds just a hint of garlic flavor.
If you like baked potatoes, try this method. Scrub clean and dry the potato, then rub garlic oil into the skin. Roll it in sea salt.
Bake on a rack in the oven, not a pan, so the heat can reach all around the potato. You’ll get a marvelous crackly potato skin, that I like even better than the inside.
Another favorite place to use garlic oil is on the grill. When I grill veggies particularly, I’ll toss them with just a bit of oil before putting them on the grill.
Using a grill basket helps keep them from falling through the grill grates.
Yum, smoky grilled zucchini, with just a hint of garlic.
Yellow squash works well too. Really any veggie you can grill works nicely with this oil.
White truffle oil is a ‘finishing’ oil, meant to be used as a garnish to foods, not to cook with. Just a few drops or a light drizzle enhances the flavor of anything that would taste good with mushrooms. I like to add a bit to risotto, and a few drops in tomato soup will give the dish more depth.
Toasted Sesame Oil is a finishing oil often used in Asian cooking. It has a low smoke point and isn’t good for cooking as it burns quickly.
A drizzle added to my Pearl Balls would add a rich umami flavor.
It would also be good on my Shumai, seen here in the upper red dish next to the broccoli. Add a bit to your soy sauce to deepen the flavor.
So those are just a few of my ideas on using flavored oils. Have you ever used flavored oils? Do you have a tip to share on using them?