Fresh garlic has been flooding the market for a few weeks now. I look forward to it every year around Pesach time, and this year was no disappointment. I lugged home six kilo of full garlic stalks, and with a little trimming, I had a basket of garlic and a fridge full of fresh garlic stems.
Sadly, the photos of the enormous palettes of garlic and the garlic garlands hanging in Machane Yehuda were erased from my camera, as well as the photos of how I cleaned the garlic up. Which explains why I was a little light on the posting these last few days. I was upset, and kept looking for the photos, and kept postponing.
There is a silver lining though; I haven’t seen a vampire all month.
Garlic is found in every cuisine around the world. It was known in the time of the Tanach, an their health benefits have been well-documented.
There are several varieties of garlic. Yes, there are hundreds, including leeks, but I’m trying to stay on topic here. The ones we have here are hardneck garlic, and the ones that I bought are specifically Purple Stripe Hardneck Garlic. There are fewer cloves and not much outer skin. Softneck are the more common ones, since they have a longer shelf life. They’re typically bright white.
While the last few tons of fresh garlic are still available in the market, I want to show you some of the things you can do with it.
Fresh Garlic Stems
These are only available if you have access to the fresh garlic stalks. After cutting off the head, you’re left with the green stalk. Pull off the outer leaves and wash the dirt off thoroughly, as with leeks. Sometimes within the stalks you’ll find immature cloves. I terrorize my kids by telling them I’m killing baby garlics. Yes, I’m that kind of parent. If you’re finding it hard to slice through, it means the longneck scape (stem) is too dry, which means the stalk you’re slicing probably isn’t going to be tender enough to eat.
The stalks are like scallions on steroids, but they mellow when you cook them. Slice on the long bias and toss them with red peppers in olive oil and cilantro for a quick side dish.
Fresh Garlic Heads
The fresh garlic heads are so tender when they’re first picked that you can simply slice them up into whatever you’re cooking, skins and all. As they dry out, the cloves will need to be peeled as usual.
This is a simple but truly magnificent way to enjoy garlic. The mellow sweetness of the garlic will surprise you, if you’ve never had it this way before.
Preparing the Garlic For Roasting
Tear off a square of foil. Place a garlic head (or three) into the center, then drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkle it with salt. Close the foil up over the garlic and throw into an oven for 45-60 minutes.
Cutting Open the Garlic Head
Remove the foil package and let cool for a few minutes. Open the package and slice the garlic head crosswise (through the middle, not top to bottom).
Spreading the Soft Garlic
Squeeze the softened garlic out, either into a container or straight onto a piece of bread.
Split a baguette the long way. Rub the opened bread with a peeled clove of garlic split lengthwise. Melt butter, salt and minced garlic. Add a handful of finely chopped parsley. Brush the butter onto the bread. Close and wrap in foil. Bake until done. There are no pictures or quantities for this, because much of it is to taste. I like it very garlicy and slightly well-baked. The rubbing the bread is a key step, so don’t forget it. You’ll be surprised at how much more flavor it gives off than what you would expect.
Crushed Garlic in a Jar
“Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.” ― Anthony Bourdain