Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Arugula and Spinach Stir-Fry (with a bonus lesson on herb-infused oils!)

People are always looking for ways to use up spring and summer greens. This recipe, from one of our CSA members, is another great one to have on hand.

But first, let me talk about one of the ingredients in this recipe: sweet-basil-infused olive oil. Infused olive oils can be very expensive and often found only at specialty stores. However, they can be made very easily and cheaply at home. I actually prefer to make it myself because you can control what types and how much of every flavor goes in. Plus, you can come up with your own herb combinations and get really creative! And an added bonus: bottles of your own herb-infused oils make wonderful gifts.

Use about 1/4 cup of fresh herbs for every cup of olive oil. You can roughly chop the herbs to help release the flavor, or leave them whole (especially if you want to leave the herbs in the bottle for decoration). Heat the oil up to about 200 degrees F (I use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pan for this) with the herbs included. Cook at this temperature for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain herbs if desired, and pour into a sterilized glass bottle. I recommend not using a jar with a wide opening for easier pouring, and not using anything with a metal top - this might add a metallic taste to your oil. Use a bottle with a plastic or cork topper and make sure that the opening is completely sealed. Let sit for about 48 hours before using. If you add raw herbs to your oil as decoration after cooking, make sure to refrigerate - the water content of the herbs can promote bacterial growth in room temperature oil. If you do not add raw herbs, you can store your oil in the fridge or with your other oils at room temperature.

Arugula and Spinach Stir-Fry

Courtesy of Jed Fahey

Use about two cups of spinach and two cups of arugula, coarsely chopped. Heat sweet-basil-infused oil in a wok, and add arugula and spinach, sauteing for about one minute. Add 1/4 cup amontillado sherry and 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar, and then steam it down for another minute or two. Serve with couscous, quinoa, or any one of your favorite starches!

Photos courtesy of Benjamin Chun, sweet mustache (respectively) - Flickr.com