Garlic (aka the “stinking rose”) has many culinary and medicinal uses. And it’s easy to grow. Here are some simple recipes to take advantage of its benefits.
By Gail Faith Edwards
Aglio e Olio
A perfect example of cucina rustica – “the rustic kitchen” – simple, easy to prepare Italian family food at its least pretentious.
1 lb. dried spaghettini or spaghetti
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, slivered or minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. minced fresh herbs such as parsley or oregano
Freshly grated Parmesan (pass separately)
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain. While the pasta is cooking, gently warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the garlic and heat just until the garlic turns golden. Add red pepper flakes. Set oil aside until the pasta is drained. Place oil back on medium low flame and toss in the pasta until well coated. Add herbs. Serve immediately with black pepper and grated cheese.
Roasted garlic has a wonderfully mellow taste. The roasted pulp can be eaten as-is, scooped or squeezed out, mashed with a fork and used in recipes, spread over warm bread, mixed with yogurt or sour cream as a topping for baked potatoes or mixed into cooked pasta. One head yields approximately one heaping tablespoonful of purée.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel away the outer layers of the skin from a bulb of garlic, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off ¼ to a ½ inch of the top of the bulb, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
Place the garlic heads in a baking pan, muffin pan, terra cotta garlic baker or small ramekin. Drizzle a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil over each head. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes, or until the cloves are lightly browned and feel soft when pressed.
Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small knife to cut the skin around each clove. Use a small fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
Leftover pulp will keep, covered with olive oil in a tightly covered container, in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Grilled Asparagus With Garlic Vinaigrette
This roasted garlic vinaigrette can be used with other vegetables like green beans, spinach and broccoli.
For the vinaigrette:
4 large garlic cloves, roasted (see above)
½ tsp olive oil
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the asparagus:
1 ½ lb asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tsp olive oil
Preheat grill to medium heat. Place asparagus on skewers and use a brush to oil both sides. Sprinkle with salt. Grill five to seven minutes on each side or until asparagus is done. Arrange on platter and drizzle vinaigrette over. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Gail Faith Edwards is a compassionate and highly knowledgeable herbal educator with 40 years experience serving as a community herbalist. She offers herbal consultations and has taught classes and workshops in India, Italy, and across North America. Gail is one of ten women featured in “Maine Women—Living on the Land” a Photographic Installation by Lauren Shaw. This exhibit, which has traveled throughout the United States, celebrates the lives and environments of ten Maine women who have lived most of their lives in close harmony with the land. Her Blessed Maine Herb Farm is located on a beautiful ridge-top in rural Maine, where they grow over an acre of medicinal herbs, flowers, and vegetables using natural farming methods. This article was first published in Natural Life Magazine.