One of the easiest tricks for using herbs from the garden is to infuse them into oil. It is a pretty way to add their bright fresh flavors to salads, meat, fish, and vegetables. Infused oils keep for several days in the refrigerator, otherwise, they will grow mold if left on the counter.
Using basil for this recipe during the summer when tomatoes are ripe makes a perfect Caprese salad.
2 cups fresh basil leaves, thick stems removed
1 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Before preparing the oil, always blanch and shock the herbs. This helps maintain their vibrant color in the oil and prevents it from turning brown.
To do this, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare a large bowl of ice water.
Drop the basil in the boiling water and quickly blanch the leaves just until wilted, about 8 seconds. Transfer the basil into a strainer, then into the ice water, and gently stir to chill.
Strain the basil again and gently squeeze out any excess water with a paper towel.
Combine the basil, olive oil, and sea salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can meld and then pour through a mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter, pressing with a rubber spatula.
Pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The oil will keep about a week.
For the classic Caprese, slice fresh garden tomatoes. Drizzle some of the Burro e Oro sauce (recipe found here) on the plate. Add the tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella or burrata, and drizzle with basil oil and balsamic vinegar. Finish with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.