The Many Faces of Garlic

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.

Roasted Garlic

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.

Garlic 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



5 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Garlic”

  1. Very nice post. Thanks for saving me in the nick of time as I was about to ignore another full season of garlic stems and baby garlic. "Scallions on steroids." Indeed. :-)

    We like to put a whole head of garlic into the crockpot with Number 2 beef and dry white wine. The garlic does its bit for the beef main dish on Shabbat; and the beef and wine enhance the garlic spread on challah or whole grain crackers. A little taste of Heaven.

  2. Yum! There isn't much not improved by fresh garlic. Okay, maybe ice cream. I've never had garlic stems. Wonder if I can find them in a farm market here in the US. I've been encouraged to try growing it in my garden. Might have to try now.
    Hi, Ruti! Made one of your old salad standbys for Shabbat. It was nice having "you" with me again!

  3. I like to use prepped longer pieces of green garlic stalks to support a whole chicken for roasting, instead of a rack. Tuck in the green garlic heads in the cavity & all around the chicken too, add some chopped onion, season with any herbs, salt, pepper, white wine, and roast until chicken is golden brown. I use oven temp. of 350 F or 170 C., cover the pan with the chicken for about 45 minutes then continue roasting uncovered until done. The garlic stalks and heads are all delicious.

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