A couple of weeks back I taught a class on how to take your vegan picnic to the next level. I showed how even the simplest cook out there can turn it up a notch with a few easy peasy recipes. What? What? You thought all us vegans were having boring picnics with just hummus, chopped veggies, and a take out salad from the Whole Foods salad bar? Shame if you did because if you haven’t taken notice vegan food it pretty hot right now and it so deserves to be. Not just for all of it’s nutritional value (hot!), that it is compassionate towards animals (hot, hot!), but it is proven to be less harmful to the environment (hot, hot, hot!). Let’s not forget that it’s super delicious too!
All the recipes were a hit especially the salad with watermelon, strawberries, tofu feta and basil. To.die.for. My personal favorite was a chilled cucumber soup with a drizzle of chili oil on top. I love taking a very basic recipe, perhaps not too bold in flavor, and add a little ump to it to gain that WOW factor. I also really like making my own condiments, spices, sauces, dressings, etc. Not only do you save $$$ but you can also control the the taste, the salt, the sugar and eliminate all the processed crap. Winner, winner.
Today I’m giving you not ONE but TWO ways to make your own chili oil. Chili oil can be used to add a little kick to sautéed vegetables, your favorite pasta sauce, added to dressings, drizzled over asian food, used for a tofu scramble or do as I did for this class…drizzle it over your favorite soup (especially good on a creamy vegetable soup!). Both recipes make small portions that are easy to use up before going rancid.
Chili Oil #1 (milder flavor, makes a smaller portion)
¼ cups organic extra virgin olive oil – please use the good stuff!
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon paprika
Combine the oil, chili flakes, and paprika in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let seep for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or storage container. Note: Remove from heat as soon as you see the gentle simmer or the spices will burn and you’ll have to start over. Don’t ask me how I know this. Sigh.
Chili Oil #2 (flavor more intense, makes larger portion)
3/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil – again, use the good stuff!
2 tablespoons dried chili’s (chili’s are in season now so a perfect way to use them up!)
Combine chili’s and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Let oil and herbs simmer over low heat for approximately 20 minutes. You just want the oil to warm, not cook or spatter. Strain out chili’s, and pour into a clean, dry glass container. (You can add additional chilis to the bottle if you want.)
Store either in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Give it a try and let me know how you spiced up your next meal.