Almost every cuisine on our planet has found an important role for garlic and is among the oldest known horticultural crop. Egyptian and Indian cultures referred to garlic 5000 years ago and by the Chinese 2000 years ago.
Garlic’s good for you. Garlic acts as a warming herb for the digestion and respiratory tract and is an important antibiotic and antiviral remedy for colds, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other infections.
It’s an important herbal supplement for protecting the blood and cardiovascular system. Used regularly, it can slightly lower your blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and help prevent atherosclerosis. Garlic has long been used as a remedy for intestinal parasites.
When selecting a head of garlic, look for large, clean, firm bulbs with unbroken, dry skins. Remove any green shoots from cloves because they give a bitter taste that persists when garlic is cooked. Store garlic in a cool, dry place where air can circulate. Refrigerating garlic inhibits flavour and dehydrates the cloves.
To peel garlic, place clove on cutting board and gently press with side of knife until skin starts to break. Discard skin.
One of my favorite uses of garlic is pesto.
100ml virgin olive oil
30 small fresh basil leaves (washed and dried; I use a salad spinner)
3-6 garlic cloves (start with 3 first, for taste and add more if needed)
30 grams freshly grated parmesan cheese
30 grams freshly grated pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts
sea salt (to taste)
I use a pestle and mortar as I like to see the bits of crushed ingredients whereas the food processor tends to make everything smooth. Also, the pestle bruises the basil releasing its perfume into the garlic and pine nuts. Put the basil leaves and garlic in mortar and crush. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and crush until almost creamy. Add the pinenuts and continue to crush; stir in olive oil. If using a food processor, slowly add the olive oil. Stir in parmesan and pecorino. At this point, you may need to add more salt or any of the other ingredients to your satisfaction.
The Culinary Chase’s note: If you don’t have pecorino, just double the amount of parmesan. Asiago is another cheese substitute one could use that would compliment the nuts in pesto. I use pesto in pasta’s, sauces, in soups and as a garnish. If you have leftover pesto, put the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove from tray & put into a plastic container and place in the freezer for future use.
Above are polenta triangles with pesto, boccinchini and tomato slices. Grill under broiler for a few minutes or until you see the cheese starting to soften. Remove from oven, top with tommato slices and serve! Buon appetito!