Sunday, June 27, 2010


There is rarely a day that goes by where I don't eat something with garlic in it or use garlic in my cooking. I am obsessed with it and use it every possible way.

Garlic is a part of the onion family has been used through history for culinary and medicinal purposes. Garlic originated in the wild of Central Asia and has more than 5000 years of history as an important crop. There are many different types of garlic, and three major varieties available in North America. First off there is the white-skinned strongly flavoured American garlic, Mexican and Italian garlic (mauve skin and milder flavour) and the white-skinned, mild flavoured elephant garlic (relative of the leek). Green garlic is young garlic before it forms its cloves, which looks like a baby leek with a long green top and a white bulb.

Garlic is available all year round - lucky for me! When choosing garlic make sure the bulbs are firm with dry skin. Make sure to avoid bulbs that are soft or shriveled. Store garlic in an open container in a cool, dark place. Unbroken bulbs usually have about an 8 week shell life, but once broken the cloves stay fresh for about 3-10 days. Raw garlic has a much stronger flavour than garlic that has been cooked. So if the strong garlic taste is too much for you, try roasting it for a milder or sweeter flavour. Roasted garlic is delicious spread onto some nice crusty Italian bread - dipped into a little extra virgin olive oil

Here are a few recipes showcasing the main ingredient - GARLIC!

Garlic Vinaigrette (by

Perfect for salads or even on top of vegetables.

- 1/4 cup pure apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower seed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- one or more cloves of garlic, crushed, chopped or sliced

- Shake the first four ingredients together and taste. There should be a nice balance with no one ingredient dominating. Adjust if necessary, and then add the garlic.
- Choose a garlic that you like the taste of raw. Spanish Roja is one of my favourites; it is milder and more subtle than many of the others. For some people the hotter the better. For them I might choose Leningrad, which is very pungent. When I have time to let the dressing sit for an hour or so I slice the garlic thinly and let it marinate. The flavour of this dressing changes over time and so I prefer to make it up fresh every day.
- When I was testing the recipe for exact quantities I used extra virgin olive oil. I used my garlic press for instant flavour and squished in one large clove of Puslinch. The vinaigrette was so delicious that my husband and I sat down and demolished a plain bowl of iceberg lettuce with this dressing.
Garlic Sauteed Spinach (by Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa)

- 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic (6 cloves)
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Lemon
- Sea Salt (optional)

- Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it's very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.
- In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it's browned.
- Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes.
- Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted.
- Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt.
- Serve hot.

Roasted Garlic (what I do to roast garlic)

- 2 bulbs of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil

- Place bulbs on a cooking sheet
- Cut off the tops of the bulb to expose part of the individual bulbs
- Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil
- Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Like I said earlier this recipe is great with bread, but is equally delicious mixed with some roasted potatoes as a side to chicken or meat.

Garlic is such a great ingredient and so easy to use! Mix extra virgin olive oil with some pressed garlic for a delicious garlic oil for pastas or for shrimps. Get creative and enjoy all the garlic has to offer!

photo credit: google images

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