BY LAURA LANGSTON
OVER THE PAST few decades, garlic has
moved from the sidelines to center stage.
From garlic festivals to entire restaurants
devoted to the root vegetable, Americans
are eating more of it, gobbling up almost
;.; pounds per person every year. This is up
from less than half a pound annually just
;; years ago. The stinking rose, as it’s commonly called, is found in virtually every food
culture in the world, and these days it’s as
likely to be found in your mashed potatoes
as in your pasta.
One possible reason for garlic’s popularity: It’s good for you. “Garlic dramatically
enhances the flavor of most dishes, [and]
garlic also has proven health benefits,” says
Tiffany Manning, sales manager for The
Garlic Company, a Costco supplier.
Used for its medicinal properties as far
back as ancient Egypt, garlic is a powerful
anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunity booster. It can help lower cholesterol
levels and prevent blood clotting, and it has
anti-cancer and antimicrobial effects, too.
Including garlic in your diet is a great way
to benefit from it, and it’s easy to do.
It has many forms
Though garlic is planted in fall and
harvested in late spring or early summer,
it stores well and can be purchased year-round, making it indispensable as a flavoring or as the star of the show.
Garlic can be purchased in a variety of
forms: as a whole bulb; in packages of peeled
cloves; in a jar, minced and packed in water;
or as dried granules.
For cooking, substitute ; teaspoons of
minced garlic in water for one garlic clove,
or ¼ teaspoon of granulated garlic for one
clove. Store whole, unpeeled garlic and dehydrated garlic at room temperature (fresh
garlic should keep for three to four weeks—
if it goes soft or discolors, it should be thrown
away). Cloves that are peeled, minced or
crushed should always be refrigerated.
Granulated dried garlic is the ultimate
in convenience because it’s ready when you
need it. “It’s a great choice for incorporating
into barbecue rubs or marinades,” says Jeff
Shumway, president of Olde Thompson, a
Costco supplier. “And it also works well in
homemade tomato sauces.”
Garlic is most powerful when it’s raw.
The more you chop or mince it, the stron-
ger its flavor, though mincing it with a
pinch of salt helps to mellow it. Use
minced or pureed garlic in pesto, hummus,
baba ghanouj, tzatziki, aioli and, of course,
Insert slivers of garlic into slits in a
roast or slide crushed cloves under the skin
of a chicken before cooking to give the flesh
a subtle garlic flavor. Poaching or simmering garlic in liquid, as in the delicious garlic soups of Spain and France, softens its
Baking garlic gives it a sweet, almost
caramel flavor. To bake a whole garlic head,
preheat your oven to ;;; F. Peel away the
outer skin of the garlic head, leaving the skin
intact on the individual cloves. Cut ¼ inch
off the top of the cloves, exposing the garlic
FOR YOUR TABLE
Look for whole bulb garlic, dried garlic and
minced granules at your local Costco.
EAS Y “AIOLI”
Garlic-based aioli is great as a dip for
crusty bread or raw vegetables, spread on
burgers or sandwiches, or blended with
cooked pasta. Traditional aioli calls for
egg yolks, olive oil and other ingredients.
But for convenience and food-safety concerns, consider this version.
6 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ cups mayonnaise
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Puree the garlic in a food processor. Add the
mayonnaise and lemon juice; pulse just until
thoroughly blended. Add salt and pepper to
taste. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic
wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes about 1½ cups.
Recipe by Amy Muzyka-McGuire
flesh. Drizzle ; teaspoons of olive oil over
the entire bulb, pop it into a baking pan,
cover with foil and bake for about ;; minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when
squeezed. Spread the baked cloves on crusty
bread, scatter them on pizza or a cheese tart,
whip them into potatoes or puree them with
oil and vinegar for a flavorful salad dressing.
Watch the heat when cooking with garlic. Fresh garlic should be sautéed over
medium-low heat until it’s pale gold; it
becomes bitter when it turns dark brown.
For high-heat dishes like stir-fries, either
add flattened garlic cloves to your oil at the
beginning of the cooking process and
remove them before cooking the rest of the
stir-fry, or add chopped garlic for the last
few minutes of cooking.
Cooked or raw, fresh or dried, garlic is
a go-to staple that deserves a spot in every
kitchen. Its flavor—and its health benefits—can’t be beat. C
Laura Langston is a novelist who lives, writes
and eats on an island in the Paci;c North-west. Garlic is almost always on her menu.