Garlic

Garlic

“Where you find garlic, you find good health.” – Old Spanish proverb

Garlic is one of the most characteristic ingredients of Mediterranean cooking. What would Italian, French, Greek or Spanish cooking be without it?

What’s so great about it?

  • It’s a cheap yet indispensible store cupboard ingredient which can transform the blandest dish in minutes!
  • It has infinite uses -either raw to flavour oils, mayonnaise and salad dressings or cooked in an endless variety of ways.
  • It’s an essential part of a healthy diet and its many properties have helped promote the Mediterranean diet as a  recommended way of eating throughout the world. (see Mediterranean Diet section)

Buying tips:

  • the fresher the garlic, the firmer the head,so don’t buy if the cloves cave in under pressure-it’s old!

Cooking tips:

  • Before use, remove the papery skin and then mash, chop or slice. Garlic burns easily and adds a bitter taste, so keep an eye on it if frying in oil.
  • There are many Mediterranean dishes where whole heads are used to flavour roast lamb (Greek kleftiko) or chicken and in the south of Spain they make a heavenly garlic and almond soup.
  • To add flavour and goodness to blander ingredients such as haricot beans or chickpeas- take a leaf from Spanish rustic cooking and add a whole head to the pot for a healthy way to add flavour without reaching for the salt pot.
  • Before serving mash a couple of the cloves of the cooked garlic with a spoonful of the pulses and stir into the pot. This will produce a richer tasting sauce.
  • (See Fabada recipe for more info :))

Quick ways with garlic:

-as a marinade-

  • chop finely and mix with the juice of a fresh lemon and several tablespoons of olive oil, touch of salt and pepper and pour over fresh chicken breasts, prawns or pork.
  • Allow to rest for at least half hour before grilling or barbequeing. (You can also add your favourite herbs and chilli to the basic marinade.)

-as an easy way to give plain potatoes a uniquely Spanish flavour.

  • Chop potatoes into medium sized cubes and boil until cooked but still firm. Drain and cool in a pan of cold salted water and set aside.
  • Fry 1 or 2 cloves of garlic in some olive oil and remove with a slotted spoon once they caramelise. This will have flavoured the oil which you can now use to fry the potatoes in.
  • For variety and a smoky taste and colour, sprinkle the potatoes with pimenton as they are frying-a wonderful combination of tastes to spice up the most boring spud in an instant-Ole!

or for a healthy brunch:

  • why not try the classic Pan a la Catalana recipe (See recipe section)

Did you know?

  1. Garlic long enjoyed a reputation as a natural “cure all” in folk medecine and modern science has proved that this wonderbulb is not simply good in the kitchen but is also  anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal as well as good at warding off colds.
  2. Regularly eating garlic has also been proven to protect against heart disease and many cancers.
  3. Scientists have discovered that mashing or slicing garlic and allowing it to sit for several minutes before using makes it more potent.
  4. It can be used on wasp stings to alleviate the pain
  5. Chewing fresh parsley is a good way to freshen your breath after eating garlic.

(For more info on garlic and health visit http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/garlic)

 

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