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Garlic Recipes - Using Fresh Garlic

Testing the Flavour of Garlic Varieties

Henry and I love testing new garlics to discover what their basic characteristics are and then to see what dishes do best with which garlic varieties.

Our all time favourite quick meal is spaghetti with garlic and oil. It is a natural for seeing how a garlic tastes cooked. We don’t much enjoy eating garlic straight and so I developed the dipping sauce for comparing raw garlics.

Let us know ( ) how you would describe the different garlic flavours. Tell us which garlics you like in which dishes. We’ll post the results from our online testers on this site.

In testing new varieties of garlic we like to try them raw and cooked. The following two recipes are suitable for testing garlic varieties because they highlight the garlic flavour and don't confuse the palate with too many other flavours.

Testing Raw Garlic

Garlic Dipping Sauce

When we are having a tasting session I make a generous amount of the basic sauce. Then the only differences in flavour are from the differences in the varieties of garlic. The proportions of yogurt and mayonnaise may be varied. Cut back the vinegar if more yogurt is used.

For the basic sauce combine:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Divide the base into as many dishes as you have garlic varieties you want to compare. To each dish add enough crushed garlic of one variety to get a good but not overpowering garlic taste and label the dish with the variety name.

Dip raw or steamed veggies in the sauces. Tender crisp steamed broccoli is especially delicious served this way.

Testing Cooked Garlic

Pasta with Garlic and Oil

This is one of the easiest and tastiest dishes imaginable and a wonderful way to experience the pure flavour of a new garlic variety. If you are comparing several varieties of garlic, cook each variety separately and toss with a portion of the pasta.

Slice garlic into thin, even slices - about three large cloves per person. Add enough good olive oil to almost cover the garlic. Sauté over medium heat until they begin to colour. Pour over freshly cooked spaghetti or noodles, toss and serve.

Variations to try once you have made your initial assessment of the garlic:

  • Add dried chilies to the oil along with the garlic.
  • Add a handful of fresh chopped herbs to the pasta and garlic as you toss it.

How much garlic?

Most recipes call for a certain number of cloves of garlic. This is not really helpful because:

  • cloves vary in size by more than a factor of ten
  • garlic varieties vary greatly in strength
  • people’s taste for garlic varies as much as the cloves do
Tip - Why the Flavour of Garlic Changes with Time - Allicin and the Chemistry of Garlic
Allicin is the potent antimicrobial (substance that kills bacteria and other pathogens) that is formed when you crush garlic. Allicin is also responsible for the fresh clean smell of newly crushed garlic. Garlic does not contain allicin. It contains the precursor, alliin and the enzyme allinase in different cells. When garlic is crushed the two come together in a moist environment to form allicin. Allicin in turn breaks down over a period of days.

Cooked or Raw?

Raw garlic can pack a punch, and that is what many garlic lovers are looking for. It is used extensively in dips and dressings for raw and cooked vegetables, and in specialty dishes like pesto, hummus and gazpacho. If you are preparing food for people who may not be garlic lovers, go gently with the raw garlic.

Cooking quiets garlic down. Boiling garlic turns the lion into a lamb. Frying garlic transforms the flavour exquisitely, and transfers it to the oil. How much garlic to use is the cook’s aesthetic choice.

So you use your judgment and experiment. With raw garlic start cautiously and add more to taste. Cooked garlic is more forgiving and so you can start with a little or a lot.

Tip - Choosing a Cooking Oil
Most of the common cooking oils - canola, soybean and corn - have a very high probability of containing genetically modified ingredients. Olive trees and sunflowers have not yet been tampered with and so olive oil and sunflower seed oil are good choices. I use olive oil when I want to enjoy its flavour and sunflower seed oil when I do not want the flavour of the oil to intrude on the other flavours.

Garlic Vinaigrette

Here is a classic recipe for a garlic salad dressing that goes well with a wide variety of salads.

1/4 cup pure apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower seed oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
one or more cloves of garlic, crushed, chopped or sliced

Shake the first four ingredients together and taste. There should be a nice balance with no one ingredient dominating. Adjust if necessary, and then add the garlic.

Choose a garlic that you like the taste of raw. Spanish Roja is one of my favourites; it is milder and more subtle than many of the others. For some people the hotter the better. For them I might choose Leningrad, which is very pungent. When I have time to let the dressing sit for an hour or so I slice the garlic thinly and let it marinate. The flavour of this dressing changes over time and so I prefer to make it up fresh every day.

When I was testing the recipe for exact quantities I used extra virgin olive oil. I used my garlic press for instant flavour and squished in one large clove of Puslinch. The vinaigrette was so delicious that my husband and I sat down and demolished a plain bowl of iceberg lettuce with this dressing.

 

Recipes - Fresh Garlic


Recipes - Dried Garlic

Garlic Recipes - Garlic Dipping Sauce
Sonia slicing garlic

 

 

Garlic recipes - Pasta with Garlic and Oil
Henry frying garlic

Rocambole Garlic - Organic Seed in BC