I love Julia Child. She cracks me up! Here’s what she had to say about garlic: “Garlic, which used to be considered exotic, if not ‘suspiciously’ foreign, probably subversive, and certainly very ‘lower class’ is now the darling of food lovers and all of our chefs….”
I wonder: Did Julia know about the terrific health benefits of her darling garlic? Did she know what a great super-food it really is? Long ago, garlic was revered for its healing abilities. It was used as a remedy for the digestive tract, skin, respiratory system and lots more. Mentioned in both the Bible and the Talmud, garlic was cultivated in the Middle East over 5,000 years ago and has been studied and reviewed countless times since then. Its use in China was first mentioned in A.D. 510, and Louis Pasteur studied it in 1858.
Garlic’s active constituent is a sulfur compound called allicin, which becomes potent by crushing or chewing the fresh garlic cloves. (Yeah, right, let’s all have a garlic-chewing party!) Allicin then produces other sulfur compounds, which have numerous health benefits, one being cardiovascular support. And it’s got antioxidant benefits as well. Eating garlic on a regular basis may protect the GI tract and, rumor has it, reduce the risk of being stalked by a vampire.
If you’ve shied away from garlic in the past, I urge you to consider a change! Start sweet with roasted garlic. Here’s how to roast whole garlic pods: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place two whole, unpeeled garlic pods in a small baking dish; drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and bake, uncovered, for one hour. Let them cool, then peel or squeeze the cloves into a small bowl. Throw the peels away and mash the delicious garlic pulp into a paste. Now, spread this thinly on toasted baguettes, add it to salad dressings, pesto, sauces, hummus, bean dips and anything else you can think of. If you try it on a baguette, lay a slice of fresh mozzarella over the top. Then layer with fresh ripe tomato, basil slivers and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Unspeakably delicious! (I got this idea from one of our recipes.)
Once you’re ready for greater garlic gaiety, here are some ideas for ways to use it:
- Mince and add to stir-fries.
- Try Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Buttermilk Yogurt Herb Dressing or Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Parsley.
- Roast it along with potatoes, root veggies or any of your other favorite veggies.
- Add to soups and stews. Try Miso Soup with Ginger and Garlic.
- Slice a garlic clove in half and rub it over sliced bread. Toast and drizzle with olive oil. This is great with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and a little fresh basil.
- Whip up some Edamame Dip with Garlic Crostini.
- Add to beans, bean dips and bean sandwich spreads, like in this Red Lentils with Garlic and Onions.
- Add to ground beef, pork or turkey before cooking. Here’s an example: Sage and Garlic Turkey Burgers.
- Add garlic to salad dressings. Tahini Miso Sauce is excellent on raw or steamed veggies.
- Stir garlic into sour cream, ricotta cheese or goat cheese. Try this idea for Herb & Garlic Goat Cheese Dip.
- Sauté with vegetables such as onions, mushrooms and zucchini. Here are a couple of recipes to get you started, but the possibilities are endless. Garlic Mushrooms in Wine Sauce and Sautéed Greens with Garlic.
- Stir garlic into mayonnaise or hummus for a delicious spread.
- Mix in garlic to cooked grains or pasta; then add some grated cheese and parsley. Similar to this recipe for Spaghetti with Garlic and Olive Oil.
- Garlic is great with roasted meats and is popular in Middle Eastern dishes. Here’s a recipe for Lamb Souvlakia with Garlic Dip and another for Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic.
- Add to cottage cheese along with parsley, chives and minced celery.
- Make your own garlic butter or follow this recipe for Lemon, Garlic and Herb Butter, perfect for topping steamed or grilled vegetables, baked or mashed potatoes. Also try tucking it under the skin of a whole chicken before roasting, or topping hot flaky white fish with a pat.
Is garlic a darling in your kitchen? Got a favorite way to cook it or use it raw? I’d love to hear!