I’ve never been a huge fan of salad dressings. After living in Italy, I learned to love the simple flavors like extra virgin olive oil with a touch of salt or a simple balsamic glaze. Garlic oil, however, has recently entered into my favorite category. Ever since I visited Pastabilities in Syracuse, NY I’ve just wanted to eat it (see my post on my take on Spicy Hot Tomato Oil). I’ve been making and using it so consistently ever since that you’d be hard-pressed not to find it in my kitchen.
Years ago, when visiting olive oil shops in Bitonto, Italy (aka the “city of olives”) and see infused oils and think “What the heck? Why are they ruining that good oil?” Thank goodness I’ve changed my mind.
I used to think that extra virgin olive oil would be ruined if you added an extra flavor. Recently, I’ve realized how wrong I was way back then. When infusing olive oil, you can extract the best flavors from something else. This is true whether it be garlic, basil, spicy peppers, truffle, or even something a little more herby like such as rosemary.
The beauty of infused oils lies in the additional flavor. I love garlic, I really like the flavor of garlic. Browsing my recipes for a few minutes will show just how often I use it when I cook. Infusing garlic in oil just adds that extra essence which I’ve found allows a sauce to unite with the garlic flavor faster.
(Suddenly, I regret having already eaten. I could have dipped some fresh sourdough bread in yesterday’s garlic oil. Oh gosh…)
Variations of Infused Oils
“We haven’t even covered how to make garlic oil and he’s already talking about how to change the recipe,” you might be saying. Well yeah, my fault. I just want to point out that when you first put this all together, you can customize it. (Customization is the art of cooking, so that’s a given. But really, maybe you don’t like pure garlic oil. Add something else for a twist!)
Single-ingredient infused oils can have drastically different flavors. I am not just talking about the type of oil. You could use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or any other. As this is a post on garlic oil, let’s take a peek at that.
Infuse the flavor into the oil by creating a “tea”. This will maintain leave a weak garlic flavor but maintain the strong oil flavor. Want a stronger flavor? Try lightly simmering the garlic at a low temperature for a few minutes. You’ll create something sweet, clean, and with a slightly heavier garlic flavor. Want an even stronger flavor with a deeper color? Simmer the garlic at a higher temperature for a few minutes.
You can introduce herbs like rosemary, oregano, and/or thyme. Maybe even lemon peel (for zestiness), or even chilies, or peppercorns. Infuse what you wish! Experiment! What is cooking if not a path to discover something else delicious (like garlic oil)!
It doesn’t take much to make garlic oil. Not surprisingly, at the very least you need the following:
- 120 milliliters (½ cup) of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
We begin by pouring the olive oil into a small cup along with placing garlic slices. This is the infuse stage. Just like with some teas, the longer we can let the flavors infuse the better. (That is, infusing for 30 minutes is better than a 10-minute infusion.) Scientifically speaking, we need to remember that at a certain point the garlic flavors will have equalized between the garlic clove and the oil. This means that there is a maximum amount of time that you should infuse. (See wonderhowto and paleogrubs for tips.)
Next comes the harder of the two steps. We want to gently saute the garlic oil just long enough for the garlic to become transparent. This will give the oil a lighter garlic flavor that won’t compromise the purity of the taste of extra virgin olive oil.
Pour the hot garlic oil into a glass container and leave to cool. Once cool, you can use it whenever and wherever you want!
And that’s it!! Super simple and super delicious! I love dipping bread into the oil and using it to spice up a classic sauce! Test it out! Tell me what you think!