Today is a national food holiday I can surely support — National Garlic Day.
Anything that is strong enough to destroy Count Dracula, while being beneficial to our overall health, is OK in my book. I love it spread all over bread, piled high on pasta or poured over a tossed salad of mixed greens and olives.
There are endless ways to incorporate garlic into our diets and tons of reason why we should. Studies have found that garlic can reduce the severity of the common cold, lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. More recently an increased intake of garlic was found to reduce the risk of certain cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas and breast.
Garlic is kin to the onion (of course another stinky. I should have known). The distinct “odor” of garlic comes from the compound found within called allicin which has potent antioxidant properties when digested.
And did you know you can use garlic as a topical for the removal of acne and stretch marks.
You can even add garlic to your shampoo or conditioner to enhance hair growth.
But enough of the scientific mumbo jumbo. Garlic is just plain delicious. There are hundreds of ways to incorporate garlic into everyday meals.
I’ve found that roasting the garlic releases the rich flavors. It is said to also be easier to digest once roasted and I am all for that.
And it’s easy to do.
Set your oven to 400 degrees. Leave the cloves of garlic whole but peel away some of the external papery layers and then cut about a quarter inch off the tops to expose the individual cloves of garlic. Place the cloves on a baking pan, cut side up and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and roast for half an hour.
It should be soft and squishy when done. Set them aside to cool and once you’re able to handle them just squeeze or peel away the outside skin and enjoy.
You can eat them as is, but I like to make a quick spread. Take the peeled roasted garlic, place into a small bowl and mash it into a paste with a fork. From there the possibilities are endless. I add some roasted red peppers, rosemary, thyme and some parmesan cheese and mix together. Take some French bread, cut slices on an angle and spread the garlic spread on the bread.
To die for — trust me!
You can use the roasted garlic to make hummus by pureeing the garlic with chick peas, lemon juice, soy sauce, tahini and water. Or you it to make a roasted garlic salad dressing by mixing it with red wine vinegar, mustard, honey, olive oil, lime juice and black pepper.
Of course you can use the roasted garlic to add kick to an ordinary mac-n-cheese recipe. Add the roasted garlic paste to pack pop into any soup or stew.
There are days when I open the cupboard and find I have plenty of pasta but no tomato sauce. There’s an easy fix. While you are preparing the pasta take a few cloves of garlic and mince finely. Add some extra virgin olive oil to a pan and light sauté the garlic in the oil until lightly browned. Add black pepper and the herbs of your choice to taste (I like basil, oregano, rosemary and a little red pepper for heat).
Drizzle that over your cooked pasta, add some parmesan and you are good to go. Sometimes I just take the cooked garlic infused olive oil recipe above and use that as a dip.
And it helps me sleep better knowing that if some blood thirsty nosferatu comes creeping into my room at night, one quick blow of my garlic breath will keep me safe and sound.