Photo by John Haslam
Garlic has been used as a seasoning for thousands of years, and with good cause! This versatile bulb can add flavour and depth to dishes in many different ways. Raw, it imparts a spicy bite, and in its roasted state, it’s so sweet and nutty that it’s difficult to stop oneself from devouring it with a spoon before it ever meets the dish it was intended for.
If you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with the different ways you can incorporate garlic into your culinary adventures, set aside a day or two to explore its many uses, and which varieties and preparations you like best.
How to Sautee Garlic Without Burning It:
If you plan to add garlic to a dish you’re cooking, it’s vital that you don’t burn t: that makes it acrid and unpleasant to taste, and you’ll want to avoid that at all costs.
The best way to cook it is to sautee it with onions, but not at the same time! Sautee your onions on medium heat until they’re golden and translucent, and then add your chopped/minced garlic. Keep the heat on medium and stir frequently for half a minute or so until it just begins to soften, and releases its aroma. When you can smell the garlic while standing at arm’s length from the pan, you’re done.
Photo by Mary Helen Leonard
Roasted garlic can be used in countless ways, but spreading it on crusty French or Italian bread is a personal favourite. You can use this buttery, smooth garlic instead of tomato sauce or pesto on pizza dough as a base layer for toppings, and it’s also great spread on a pie crust and then topped with layers of tomatoes, basil, and cheese for an open-faced tart.
To roast garlic, preheat your oven to 350°F, and peel off the outer, papery skin from a full bulb. Use a sharp knife to cut off the upper portion of the bulb so that the tips of each clove are visible, place the bulb on aluminum foil, and then drizzle the entire thing with olive oil. Wrap the foil tightly around the bulb, and roast it for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on how large it is) until the cloves are soft, and can be easily mashed into paste with the back of a spoon. They’ll be sweet, fragrant, and utterly gorgeous to work with.
In addition to using these roasted cloves as spreads, you can add them into sauces, blend them into mashed potatoes or turnips, or even add them to hummus.
Have you ever tried or worked with aioli before? If you haven’t yet, it’s recommended that you try it.
Aioli is a fragrant, pungent mayonnaise made with egg yolks, olive oil, and raw garlic. It’s often used as a dipping sauce for frites or asparagus, but it’s also excellent with burgers, seafood (especially in crepes), and even as a dressing for potato salad.
Photo by Michael Verhoef
Most people think of pesto as a basic basil-raw garlic-pine nut sauce that can be tossed over pasta or gnocchi, but pesto (or pistou, in French cooking) can be made with a variety of different greens and nuts, and you can use it in far more ways than than just tossing it over spaghetti, such as:
- Extra flavour in meatballs or burgers
- Sandwich spread
- Dressing for grilled vegetables, or steamed green beans
- Spread over roasted corn on the cob
…and many more.
My favourite way to use pesto is as a final flavouring agent for soups, especially vegetable-based dishes like minestrone or Provencal bean soup. Though garlic is cooked in the preparatory stage of the soup itself, its flavour will have mellowed as the soup simmered and become far less noticeable. To bring it back into the spotlight, a bit of pesto is stirred into the soup just before it’s served: the heat will mellow the garlic’s raw bite a little bit, but its fragrance and strong flavour add a high note of dimension to an otherwise earthy dish.
Raw Garlic As a Final Touch
Much like its use in pesto form as mentioned above, a bit of raw garlic can brighten up flavours when added later in the cooking process. The heat and acidity of fresh garlic is quite different from the sweeter, softer flavours that come out when it’s cooked, so try adding a bit of it in raw, minced form a few minutes before a dish is ready to be served. Remember to just use a tiny bit, though: garlic is powerful stuff, and you don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s palate with it.