Even just the slightest hint of garlic being cooked brings to mind a tiny Venetian restaurant, generous helpings of pasta and sprinklings of grated parmesan. While I associate garlic with Italian food, it’s often that “little something” which brings various flavours together beautifully, regardless of the origin of the meal.
This modest ingredient really ups the ante, with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Enfolded in the histories of Siberia, the Himalayas, Egypt, Europe and more, garlic was apparently used for flavour, courage, as a treatment for colds and plagues and hung in houses to ward off all sorts of evil spirits; it even managed to make its way into a couple of poems as it gained popularity.
Here’s how it can make its way into your kitchen:
- Before sticking a leg of lamb in the oven, make a couple of inch-long incisions every couple of centimetres into which you can insert a mixture of fresh rosemary and garlic
- Slice a baguette and lay the slices on a chopping board. Halve a clove of garlic and liberally rub the clove on top of the slices. Stick them in the oven until toasted, remove and top with a twist of pastrami, fresh basil and diced tomato
- Add a very small amount of crushed garlic to your mashed potatoes for a different take on a family favourite
- Slice some jalapeno chillies, fill with cheese or tofu and some slivers of garlic and cook them in the oven for about 20 minutes
- For a garlic spread that can be used on sandwiches, veggies and fish, mix a little lemon juice, wholegrain mustard, finely crushed garlic, fresh dill and a little mayonnaise/plain yoghurt
- Make your own garlic bread: slice a baguette without cutting right through the base of the bread. Mix margarine/butter, garlic and some fresh herbs in a bowl and then spread some on each slice. Wrap the bread in tinfoil and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes
- Make your very own garlic oil. Slice cloves in half and place on the bottom of a pan in a single layer. Cover with olive oil. Place on medium heat for about 15 minutes, and stir every now and then. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic cloves. Allow the oil to cool and then place in a bottle that can be sealed. Use the oil in cooking in the same way that you would use your olive oil. The remaining garlic cloves can be used for other recipes.
“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.” Alice May Brock (of Alice’s Restaurant fame)
Adapted from Food Flavours – see www.soundbites.co.za
Image sourced from Pinterest