How to make basil oil for a delicious summertime salad

Call us grocery nerds, but my husband and I love to browse grocery stores, specialty food shops and farmer’s markets simply for the thrill of the hunt – not just to find deals, but in search of inspiration for our next meal.

The other day, as I was browsing the aisles at my local grocery store, something caught my eye: burrata cheese, an ultra-decadent, creamy, fresh Italian cheese. At $12 for 250 grams it was a splurge, but like many of my impulse food purchases it quickly became the inspiration for a light summer dinner. To round out our meal I picked up some fresh basil, tomatoes and fingerling potatoes.

Basil is a delicate herb that bruises easily, so I like to blanch and refresh it before making basil oil. It’s an extra step, but it’s worth it because it keeps the basil bright green. This recipe makes more basil oil than you need, but the leftovers can be used as an impressive garnish when added to chicken, fish or potatoes, or can even be served drizzled over a salad or as a dip for a crusty piece of bread.

This salad makes a great light dinner or lunch, but for something heartier, try serving it with seared fish or chicken.

Tomato and Burrata Salad

Basil Oil

 

Here’s what you’ll need to make Tomato and Burrata Salad:

(Makes 4 servings and about 1/3 cup basil oil.)

1 lb (450 g) fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
4 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 cups grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
4 small vine-ripened yellow tomatoes, sliced
1 piece (about 250 g) burrata cheese
3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
20 small basil leaves, or 10 large leaves, torn

Basil Oil:
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Basil Oil: In small pot of lightly salted boiling water, blanch basil leaves for 5 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge into bowl of ice water. Drain again. Squeeze dry and pat down with paper towel.

In food processor, purée basil leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Let stand for 20 minutes. Strain using cheesecloth. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Meanwhile, in bowl, toss potatoes with 2 tsp of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp each of the salt and pepper. Roast on foil-lined baking sheet in 400˚F (200˚C) oven, turning once, until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toss tomatoes with remaining olive oil. Roast on foil-lined baking sheet in oven until tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes.

Arrange potatoes and roasted tomatoes between 4 plates. Cut burrata cheese into 4 pieces; place one piece in middle of each plate. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp of the basil oil. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper, and the basil leaves.

Do you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market for inspiration?