Add a spicy kick to your olive oil. Besides spicing up your own kitchen, this will make a great gift. During our six-week trip to France my husband and I admittedly ate our fair share of pizza. I know that may sound strange to eat pizza in France, but it is actually quite popular there. The reason we found ourselves at pizza parlors is that, oftentimes, they are the only restaurants open before 7:30 PM. They also offer fairly quick food. Otherwise a typical French restaurant doesn’t open until 7:30 or 8:00pm and it can often take a few hours from the time you sit down to the time you pay your check.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the French dining experience, but we were there for six weeks and sometimes we just wanted a quick bite before heading back for the evening.
It was through these frequent pizza dining experiences that I learned about chili flake spiced olive oil. Every single pizza place we went to offered this to drizzle on our pizza. It was so prevalent that I made the observation that serving pizza in France without this spicy olive oil was like serving fries in the U.S. without ketchup.
One night we were in a small town and stopped at a pizza place that was admittedly a bit beneath the standards of our previous pizza experiences. When our pizza arrived at the table it didn’t arrive with a bottle of olive oil. Instead the server brought out little disposable single use plastic packets of spiced olive oil. Just like you would see ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise served in is the U.S. I am telling you, they are serious about serving their pizza with this sauce!
I knew I would want to make some when I got back home and since then I’ve found a lot of different uses for this oil that goes beyond the pizza experience. It can be drizzled onto practically everything, including veggies and soups. It is also delicious just to dip some bread into it. It can also add a spicy kick to your homemade salad dressings.
Now that you know why I was inspired to make this recipe I want to share some of the health benefits of olive oil and cayenne.
Olive Oil Health Benefits
In the past several decades olive oil has repeatedly made the headlines with study after study showing its health benefits.
It is most widely heralded for its healthy heart benefits and certain constituents of olive oil are now being studied for their ability to fight cancer.
As I shared in the olive tapenade recipe, the Greeks consume the most olive oil in the world, which amounts to about 6 gallons a person per year! Their incredible olive oil consumption is often correlated to their lower incidence of heart disease.
Even still, the U.S. is one of the biggest buyers of olive oil.
Sometimes I get the feeling that people in the U.S. are buying olive oil and then use it so infrequently that the bottle just sits around in the cupboard for a long time.
My husband and I have been increasing our olive oil consumption in the past several years and we go through ten gallons between the two of us each year. I promise you we aren’t drinking it by the glass. We just use it for practically everything, including light sautéing, kale chips and salad dressings.
I hope this spicy olive oil inspires you to use more olive oil in your daily life. When buying olive oil look for extra virgin olive oil that has been cold pressed. Unfortunately a lot of olive oil on the market is being adulterated with inferior oils so it’s best to get it from a reputable company or straight from an olive oil farm.
Cayenne Health Benefits
Today’s recipe uses two kinds of chili flakes. Both of these come from cayenne (Capsicum annuum).
Like olive oil, cayenne has been shown to have numerous benefits for the heart. One study showed that it decreased lipoprotein oxidation in both men and women. Another study has shown it can increase insulin sensitivity (which can be a major factor in heart disease).
Cayenne also modulates inflammation and decreases chronic and acute pain.
Cayenne is hot and spicy and helps to warm up the body and increase circulation. This is a wonderful herb to be using during the cold months of the year. If you tend to feel cold or have cold hands and feet then cayenne will be a good herb to know.
Chili Spiced Olive Oil
This spicy olive oil can be drizzled on your pizza, soup or veggies, used as a bread dip or used to spice up your homemade salad dressing. The recipe below makes a medium spicy blend. Consider adding more or less chili flakes for your personal preference.
What you’ll need…
- 2 Tablespoons chili flakes
- 2 Tablespoons smoked chili flakes
- 1 Tablespoon garlic granules
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Combine the chili flakes, garlic granules and salt into a pint jar.
Fill the jar with olive oil.
Cover with a lid and shake well. Continue to shake this mixture every day or so for two weeks.
After two weeks give it a taste. If you would like it stronger you can add more chili flakes. If it is too strong you can dilute it with a bit of olive oil.
When it is done to your liking transfer the oil and chili flakes to a corked bottle or a bottle that has an oil dispenser on it. The flakes naturally settle to the bottom of the jar and can be left in for decoration.
Resources & Citations
Effects of Chili Pepper Ingestion on Lipoprotein Oxidation in Men and Women
Ahuja K, Ball M. Effects of daily ingestion of chilli on serum lipoprotein oxidation in adult men and women Brit J Nutr. 2006;96:239-242.
Chili Peppers with Meals May Help with Glucose Levels
Ahuja K, Robertson K, Geraghty D, Ball M. Effects of chili consumption on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy metabolism Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(1):63-69.