When I was growing up, cream cheese had one companion – chives. Many, many chives. Bright green and full of flavor, they were delicious confetti. But sometimes I want to add their light, onion flavor to a dish without contributing extra texture or spots of color. Consider corn chowder or lobster bisque. A drizzle of chili chive oil adds herbal onion flavor and a fun, spicy kick that melds beautifully where chopped chives would fall short.
Flavored oils can dress up your favorite recipes and bring out a new dimension that makes you fall in love all over again. Simple egg salad, grilled fish, or the classic combination of carrots and chives take a twist when the oniony element is added in a fresh way. It’s especially good on a white pizza with plenty of fresh ricotta.
½ cup grapeseed oil
1 ounce chives (1 bunch)
1 ½ teaspoons red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
Since this recipe is used as a finishing touch, grapeseed oil is an ideal base. It has a mild, neutral flavor that does not compete with the chili flakes or chives and also does not congeal in the refrigerator. A drizzle of the flavored oil will go a long way, and this stores well when chilled.
Begin by blanching the chives. Place them in a small saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain, place them in a bowl of ice water until cool and pat dry. The chives will be bright green and softer than they initially were, but the ice water halts the cooking process.
Heat grapeseed oil and red chili flakes in a small saucepan over low heat for 7 minutes. Swirl saucepan occasionally. Remove from heat, drain oil through a sieve to remove chili flakes and allow to cool slightly. Puree oil and chives. I prefer to use a stick blender, but a standing blender works as well.
Strain oil through a mesh sieve to remove any chive pieces that have remained whole. Allow the oil to cool and use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator.