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Giving garlic a second chance

How often do you cook with garlic? If you tend to shy away from it, it's time to give it a second chance. Brenda Hyde explains why.

A favorite herb
Garlic is one of my favorite herbs! If you haven't been a fan of garlic, give it a second chance. It can be roasted, blanched or used raw for different levels of pungency. It is available year round, but is freshest between March and August. The bulb is planted in the late fall and harvested in the spring and summer. Even if you don't grow it, which I don't, it is readily available in the stores. Pick heads that are firm to the touch, and do not have green growth on them. Do not refrigerate, but store in a cool, dark place.

Experiment with different varieties
One interesting note; the elephant garlic that is popular is not a true garlic and is actually much milder than white garlic. We usually find white or California late garlic in the store. Another type that has reddish purple skin, is called Red, Mexican or Italian garlic. These cloves are smaller and some say a little stronger. Be sure to try each variety that you find in your area. They can be interchanged in recipes.

Preparation tips
Garlic mellows with roasting or blanching. Add cloves to boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, crush, then add to your favorite dip or spread. I saut� thinly sliced garlic in butter or olive oil, add chopped sage and cooked green beans for a wonderful side dish. Minced garlic can also be added to any stuffing dish. Cut small slits in your pork or beef roast before cooking and insert half cloves to season. When making soups that call for saut�ed onion, I always throw in minced garlic too. For the frugal cook, it's indispensable!

Garlic Roasted Puree

Ingredients:

  • 4 heads garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bottoms off the garlic heads. Leave skins on, and place in a small baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Slip from the skins by squeezing and place in food processor. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Spread on toasted French bread, baked potatoes or grilled chicken. Makes 3/4 cup.

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