Garlic. The word alone stirs the senses with memories of
powerful aromas, zesty flavors and memorable, savory meals. You'd
be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't enjoy this punchy
allium, and you might be surprised at the range of dishes that are
improved by it. Breads, sauces, appetizers and entrees ? just about
everything short of cheesecake takes on a bold, flavorful taste
with this versatile kitchen staple.
But garlic does more than add flavor: It's been used for food
and medicinal purposes since at least 3000 B.C., renowned for its
powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties. As the realm of
holistic health has grown, it's now also recommended to help
prevent heart disease (it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure)
and even cancer. In
The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, Ph.D.,
suggests garlic to treat allergies, athlete's foot, diabetes,
colds, the flu and more.
You can easily enjoy the numerous benefits of garlic, for the
palate and body, by growing your own this season. Fall is a
terrific time to plant garlic, and come summer you'll be rewarded
with large, flavor-packed heads ready for nibbling, cooking and
Garlic is simple to grow. Good soil, full sun and watering every
few days are its main requirements, and garlic doesn't attract many
insects ? it can even deter them from other crops! If the plant
begins to flower, snip the stalk to keep growth energy directed to
the bulb instead. You'll know it's time to harvest when the tops of
the stalks start to brown.
Served as an appetizer, spread on bread, or mixed in mashed
potatoes, one of the simplest, most useful garlic preparations is
roasted garlic. These basic recipes are adapted from Growing
and Using Garlic, by Glenn Andrews.
1 whole head garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Slice off the top fifth of the
garlic head. Place the head on a medium-size square of heavy-duty
aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil over garlic. Seal the foil
securely. (Unless you want your whole house to smell of garlic,
don't crumple the foil too much; this would create cracks through
which the aroma could escape.) Bake for 40 minutes, the garlic
should be golden brown.
Garlic also makes a yummy, easy hummus:
1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzos)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1? teaspoons garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste, available at most
Salt to taste
Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover by at
least 1 inch.
Drain. Cover amply again with fresh water. Boil for about an
hour, or until very soft. Drain again. Put chickpeas, along with
lemon juice, garlic, tahini and salt, in a food processor or
blender and run the machine until the hummus is smooth. (You may
have to add a little water, one tablespoon at a time, to make the
mixture thin enough to process. The consistency you want is similar
Serve as a spread or dip for pita chips or triangles of toasted
pita bread. Makes about 2 cups.
Learn more about garlic varieties and growing, braiding, cooking
and preserving garlic in the
Growing and Using Garlic e-handbook from
Mother Earth News.
Share your garlic recipes and growing tips in the comments