So, I almost didn't write an entry today, because I am currently in a produce desert - yes, I am watching two teenage girls for the rest of this week (and last), and their diet consists largely of sugar, sugar, and some fries and pasta thrown into the mix. Ouch. I can't believe I used to eat that! Well, inspiration struck, and I decided to highlight the Italian's go-to ingredient: Garlic!
This bulb hearkens from the onion family, and has both culinary and medicinal value. While our modern-day varieties probably originated in Asia, wild garlics come in many shapes and sizes and have found their home in many habitats. If you want to try your hand at growing garlic, stop by your farmer's market and grab a head of garlic. Then, around September or October (around 6 weeks before the first frost), separate the cloves and pop each into the ground pointy end up. By June, you will have a new head for each clove planted! They are hardy plants and great for our PNW climate!
Mention of garlic's uses extends back as far as biblical times. It holds claims to a variety of medicinal benefits, such as fighting fungal and bacterial infections, promoting heart health, and decreasing the risk of cancer - to name a few. While not necessarily clinically proven, garlic has been used for thousands of years to combat many ailments.
What we know it best for these days is its culinary prowess. While a necessity in pasta dishes, stir fries, and marinades, there are a few garlicky comestibles I just adore. The first is nice and simple...Roasted Garlic! The simple process of sticking a head of garlic in the oven produces this slightly sweet, highly aromatic, buttery goodness.
1. Wrap a head of garlic, doused in a little olive oil, in aluminum foil with the opening on the top. Place on a pan, pie tin, whatever, and put in oven.
2. Bake at 400F for 30-45 minutes, until cloves are soft.
3. Spread on toasty bread or use in bean dip...or just eat it straight!
2 cups soaked and cooked dried chickpeas or 1 can of the beans
1 tbs sesame tahini
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic (or three roasted)
a few pinches salt
1. Stick it in a food processor and hit it! Adjust proportions to your taste. Serve with veggies and/or pita.
The Garlic Fries look absolutely heavenly. Try using purple potatoes for color or German butterballs for rich creaminess. Some fancy Roasted Garlic Bread is also a kicker ... cheese optional!
And for all of you garlic fanatics, for whom this post just doesn't cut it, don't forget to make a trip to Gilroy, CA. The Garlic Capitol of the World hosts a garlic festival every year at the end of July!