Garlic goodness

Little cloves pack intense flavor and bring along some health benefits to boot

March 30, 2011 

  • Chicken breasts with garlic and shallots

    4 servings

    4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

    2 large shallots, thinly sliced

    1/2 cup dry white wine

    1/4 cup fresh cilantro

    Place oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a warm plate and set aside.

    Add the garlic, shallots and wine to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and continue to cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add cilantro and stir.

    To serve, place the cooked chicken on a platter and cover with sauce.

    The Unabashed Garlic & Onion Lover’s International Cookbook, Sunny Baker and Michelle Sbraga

    Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette

    2/3 cup

    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

    1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced

    coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Combine all ingredients in a glass jar or bottle, shake until well blended. Can be used on salads, pasta or tossed with cooked shrimp.

    The Unabashed garlic & Onion Lover’s International Cookbook, Sunny Baker and Michelle Sbraga

    Bagna Cauda

    3/4 cup

    1/2 cup unsalted butter

    1/4 cup olive oil

    6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced tissue thin

    2 ounces anchovy fillets, chopped

    salt

    Combine butter and oil in saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 15 minutes without letting the mixture boil.

    Add anchovies and stir until anchovies dissolve. do not let sauce boil or burn. Season with salt as needed.

    Serve with assortment of raw vegetables like cucumber, celery, carrots, endive, green pepper or cauliflower.

    Craig Claiborne, The NY Times, 1960

I was just a couple of steps late in answering the knock on the kitchen door. Swinging it wide open, Shari said “I knew you were home, I smelled garlic.”

So I’ve been found out.

In addition to other (possible) character flaws, I am a garlic fiend.

Garlic butter, garlic toast, garlic and herb dips, garlic added to hot sauce when I bake wings, garlic chives from the garden chopped into green salads, you get the idea.

I even found a cookbook titled “The Unabashed Garlic & Onion Lovers International Cookbook” on my bookshelf. It’s been there for a while. Can’t remember who gave it to me.

I reason that garlic is good for you: It helps reduce blood pressure and plaque buildup in the veins and arteries, it can help in the prevention of certain types of cancer and, of course, it keeps vampires away.

Actually, it’s supposed to keep mosquitoes at bay but, hey, a blood sucker is a blood sucker.

Anyway, when Shari was at the house, I think I had been sautéing a couple of chopped cloves of garlic in a couple of tablespoons of butter and olive oil with red pepper flakes for a super-quick sauce to pour over pasta. It’s a lunch or dinner that I can take with me to work when I’m between paychecks. If I’m flush, I usually add five or six large fresh shrimp to the mix and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Simple, quick and delicious.

The recipe I’ve included for bagna cauda can be used as a sauce over pasta as well. I like to dip fresh veggies in the sauce... I figure it’s healthier than a bag of potato chips and store-bought dip.

And, I’m not the only one in the family that loves garlic.

Shari went through a phase where she ate quite a lot of garlic dill pickles when she was younger. Imagine sharing a bedroom with that!

I guess it just comes naturally.

Shari called me before I sat down to write this to share her latest garlic-inspired recipe: Take a two-pound pork loin and 16 cloves of chopped garlic, a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Split open the loin and place half of the chopped garlic inside. Rub the outside of the loin with the remaining garlic, ginger, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and put in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. In the morning, lightly sear the loin on all sides then either bake at 325 for two hours or place in a crock pot over slow heat for eight hours.

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