Garlic, although part of the onion family, definitely deserves its’ own post. I have a mild to mad obsession with garlic that stems from my father, who believes that garlic makes everything better (and he may be right). In fact, my mom once left my dad, who is a magnificent cook, in charge of turning homemade stock into soup one night. My father, with all of his creative culinary genius, simply crushed and added 8 cloves of garlic and called it garlic soup. While my mother berated him for his lack of effort, the “soup” was delicious and no one was sick for months.
Not only is garlic a staple in practically every kind of international cuisine including Indian, Ukranian, Italian, Thai, Greek, Chinese, Japanese (the list goes on and on), but this raunchy, potent little bulb is also incredibly good for you. From antioxidant to anti-carcinogen, to fighter of all things evil from colds to high blood pressure, garlic basically represents all that is good and true in the world. I once had an ex-boyfriend who rarely got sick, and always claimed it was because he drank the juice left over from garlic pickles…and no, his breath was not a deciding factor in our break-up.
So how do you use this magical ingredient?
Chopped finely or grated, garlic can flavour dishes wholey and potently; simply add to heated olive or vegetable oil after your onions have been in there for about 30 seconds as the base for soups, sauces, stews and stir-frys.
Sliced, smashed, or coarsly chopped garlic creates a burst of sweet and sticky garlicky flavour in your mouth if cooked on medium-low for a bit longer. I like to add larger pieces of garlic to chunkier pasta sauces and soups, and even in bread and pizza doughs to create a juicy little golden nugget here and there.
And roasted garlic is just amazing. Cut the top off of a garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in tinfoil. Toss it in the oven at 350 degrees farenheit for 30-45 minutes and boom, you have the most amazing ingredient of all time. Squeeze out the cloves and blend into soup for a creamy texture. Mash the cloves to use as a spread on crackers or add to a cheese tray as a savoury component. Or toss un-mashed roasted garlic cloves into anything mentioned above for a sweeter and less potent flavour.
I have always been of the firm belief that if you don’t like the smell of garlic on my breath or oozing from my pores, we simply cannot be friends. Garlic is actually a part of who I am. And perhaps it is because it represents comfort food, reminds me of time with my family, or because it has so many health benefits, but like Forrest, my father, I truly believe that garlic really does make everything better.
For more info about the health benefits of garlic, read this great article in the Huffington Post.