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A flavor infusion

When cooking up a recipe, we all want the finest of flavors.

The overall flavor of a recipe will come from a number of different sources: how you apply heat, the ingredients and, perhaps, some unexpected areas.

One way to add flavorful ingredients is with infused extra virgin olive oil. The one I currently have on hand is a roasted garlic rosemary infusion. I make this flavorful item and store it in my refrigerator, usually for no more than two weeks. Once it's made, I have different ways of using the flavor: the roasted garlic cloves by themselves, the infused oil by itself or a combination of both.

One way to use the roasted garlic is in polenta or grits. Before cooking, puree three or four roasted garlic cloves in a little of the grits liquid. This gives a deep, nutty roasted garlic flavor to the finished product, stir in some grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the end, and you have a very special, flavorful side dish. Simple when you have the roasted garlic already on hand.

Many recipes call for sautéed vegetables, such as onions. These can be sautéed in unflavored oil or you can use your infused extra virgin olive oil and add another layer of flavor. One way I like to use this is in wilted spinach. I will sauté some minced onion in about one tablespoon of infused extra virgin olive oil, add one crumbled slice of cooked bacon and then stir in about 6 ounces of fresh baby spinach, (serves two), with continuous tossing until properly wilted. This is a beautiful and healthy side dish. Simple when you have the infused extra virgin olive oil already on hand.

Try this recipe today and infuse flavors for the next couple weeks.

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil Yield about 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil 8 cloves garlic, peeled 3 sprigs rosemary, green leaves only pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place all the above ingredients in an appropriate sized baking dish. Bake uncovered for an hour to an-hour-and-a-quarter. Be careful not to overcook or the garlic will turn bitter. When finished, allow to sit on the counter and cool completely. Remove all of the rosemary and save the oil and garlic cloves in a plastic container. Place in the refrigerator.

You may use thyme or any other favorite herb or spice, just be sure to remove these before storage. Can you think of other infusion possibilities?

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