There are many different methods for making basil infused oil, but I find this one works really well. It produces a deeply colored and flavored oil that will last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days before the flavor begins to drop off. It can be frozen for a month or two without much loss of flavor, but be sure to wrap it closely once frozen.
Use this as a garnish, or as a flavoring. Try smearing a little across a plate when you want a subtle basil aroma and flavor, or add drops onto dishes for small intense burst of basil flavor. Although the recipe calls for olive oil, use a mild flavored olive oil. Save the intense Tuscan Extra Virgin oils for something else, or the basil will be overwhelmed.
2 bunches fresh basil, about 2-3 cups leaves packed
Mild olive oil as needed, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup
Cheesecloth to line a large strainer (large enough hold all the basil and oil after pureeing)
Bring a large pot of well salted water to the boil. Prepare an ice and water bath large enough to hold all the basil.
Place the basil into a strainer and dip into the boiling water for 15 seconds.
Immediately transfer the basil to the ice and water bath and submerge. Chill, then remove from the water and squeeze as dry as possible. Then roll the herbs in a paper towel to extract any more water you can. Use your sharpest knife to roughly chop the basil.
Quickly, transfer half of the basil to a blender and add enough oil to cover by 1/2 inch, and start the blender on medium. If the basil seems stuck, add a tablespoon more oil.
Once the blender gets turning, raise the speed to high and run 1 minute. Remove the plug in the top of the blender and add half the remaining basil, and puree 2 minutes. Add the rest of the basil and puree 2 minutes more.
Transfer the contents to a jar and refrigerate for at least 1 whole day, but more is better — up to three days is great. This will intensify the color and flavor.
After the three days, place a strainer lined with cheesecloth (secure the cheesecloth with clips or clothespins so it doesn’t fold over on itself), over a bowl or pan and pour the contents of the jar into the cheesecloth. Allow to drain until it seems like all the oil has dripped through, then gently take up the corners of the cloth and give the bundle a couple of good bounces over the bowl. Do not squeeze the cloth or the resulting drips will cloud the oil you have already extracted.
Once you have filtered the oil, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze it for a couple of months.
You do not want the oil/blender to start heating up enough so you can feel it through the glass while pureeing the basil. This will cause the basil to blanch and you will have a pale oil with very little vegetal flavor to it. If you place your hands at the base of the blender vessel and it feels warm, turn off and place the vessel somewhere cold. If you are concerned about this happening, try freezing the blender body first and chilling the oil in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour prior to making the infusion.
YIELD: About 1/3 cup