Vampires may hate it, but humans can’t seem to get enough of garlic. We’ve been using the smelly stuff in cooking and to cure illness for roughly 5,000 years — garlic bulbs have even been discovered entombed in the Egyptian pyramids.
As it turns out, our ancestors may have had the right idea about garlic. Not only can adding a clove or two of this pungent bulb (which is related to leeks and onions) bring much-needed flavor to any number of dishes, but it may also have some health benefits. There’s evidence that garlic helps prevent the common cold (when taken as a supplement) and it may even reduce the risk of certain cancers. One study found that people who frequently ate raw or cooked garlic lowered their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30%.
Whether you’re trying to fight off the sniffles or just love the taste, here are five recipes where garlic takes center stage. We think they’re worth the bad breath.
1. Lebanese Garlic Sauce
You only need four ingredients (including an entire cup of garlic) to make this simple Lebanese garlic sauce, also known as toum, but once you try it, it’s likely to turn into a kitchen staple. The versatile sauce can be served with roasted meats and vegetable, as a dipping sauce for pita, French fries, or chips, or slathered on bread. It also works as a base for salad dressings and marinades. This recipe from KCET makes about 4 cups and will keep for several weeks in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.
- 1 cup peeled garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups neutral oil such as grape seed or sunflower
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Directions: Peel the garlic cloves and check them for any green sprouts. If you find any, remove and discard (they will make the sauce taste bitter). Place the garlic in the food processor and process until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
With the food processor still running, pour in ½ cup of the oil in a slow, steady stream. Gradually add ½ tablespoon of the lemon juice using the same technique. Repeat the process until you’ve added all the oil and lemon juice. If the mixture separates while you’re adding the lemon juice or oil, pause and let the processor run until the ingredients come together. Adding all the ingredients should take about 10 minutes and you’ll have a sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise at the end.
Transfer sauce to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
2. Sopa de Ajo
Skip the bowl of chicken noodle soup the next time you feel a cold coming and make yourself a pot of this garlicky soup. In this easy-to-prepare Spanish-style dish, 10 cloves of garlic are combined with bread, chicken stock, paprika, and eggs to create a simple, immunity-boosting meal that’s ready in under 20 minutes. Recipe from Saveur.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 6 ounces country bread, torn into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon Spanish hot paprika
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, for garnish
Directions: Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat; add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add bread and paprika; cook stirring occasionally until bread is slightly toasted, 4 to 6 minutes. Add wine and cook until absorbed by the bread, about 2 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Slowly add eggs while stirring constantly and cook for 1 minute more; season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.
3. Roasted Garlic and Spinach White Pizza
You’ll get a double dose of garlic in this pizza. A garlic-laced ricotta cheese mixture serves as a sauce, and the pie is also topped with cloves of soft roasted garlic. Spinach and mozzarella finish off the pizza, and you can add chicken if you’re in the mood for a more filling dish. Recipe from Kitchen Treaty.
- 1 pound refrigerated pizza crust dough (or use homemade if you prefer)
- 24 medium cloves garlic (about 2 heads), separated, peel left on
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for working the crust
- 1 cup part-skim or whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling the garlic
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove any excess moisture
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (about 8 ounces)
For the chicken (optional)
- 1 (½ pound) boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet and place the pizza dough on top. Let it rest for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, tear off a large square of aluminum foil and lay the garlic cloves on top, peels still on. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Fold the foil into a sealed packet and place in the oven. Let cook for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the cloves and discard the skin.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Take 8 of the peeled, roasted garlic cloves and add to a bowl. Mash with a fork, then add the ricotta, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, basil honey, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Mix well.
If including the chicken on the pizza, heat an outdoor grill or grill pan on medium-high. Rub about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the chicken and then season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside to cool, then cut into chunks.
Shape the pizza crust into a 14-inch round circle. Place on the greased cookie sheet or a pizza stone. (You can also make two smaller, 8-inch pizzas.) Spread the ricotta mixture in an even layer on the crust. Top with spinach, the remaining roasted garlic cloves, and the chicken (if using). Scatter the mozzarella over the top.
Bake the pizza in the oven for about 9 to 10 minutes, until the cheese melts and the crust is crisp and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve.
4. Garlic Knots
Making the old-time pizza parlor staple of garlic knots is easy when you start with a premade pizza dough. After the knots bake, just toss them with a generous amount of garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and parsley and you’ll have a snack that’s better than anything you can have delivered. Recipe from Allrecipes.com.
- 1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
- 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the pizza dough into a 10-by-16-inch rectangle. Cut into ¾-inch wide strips, then cut those strips in half (you should have about 24 pieces).
Grease a baking pan. Tie each strip into a knot, then place the knots in the pan, close together. Bake the knots until they’re golden brown in color, about 17 minutes.
Remove the knots from the oven and transfer to a bowl. While still hot, drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with garlic, cheese, parsley, red pepper, and salt. Toss to combine, then serve.
5. Baby Bok Choy with Garlic
Baby bok choy — a member of the cabbage family — has a mild flavor, which really allows the garlic to shine in this healthy dish from Allrecipes.com. In addition to the nutritional benefits of garlic, a 1-cup serving of bok choy delivers more than half of your recommended daily value of vitamins A and C. You can enjoy this dish on its own or serve it as a side with chicken or fish.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- 28 ounces chicken broth
- 6 heads of baby bok choy, trimmed
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
Directions: Add the butter to a saucepan, then turn heat to medium. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until very lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and the baby bok choy, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes, until the bok choy is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
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