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Cooking with Garlic

Joe and I just returned from a glorious 8 days in Rome.  We met dear friends of ours there,, Dick and Susan, rented an apartment, and while the boys explored ruins and churches, Susan and I attended cooking classes (one in the city of Rome and one in a 600yr old village an hour outside of Rome) and also sought out farmer's markets in the city.  (while also "doing" our share of ruins and churches!)

Our chef in Rome, Andrea, explained some things about cooking with garlic that I'd not heard before.  And since I use about a pound of garlic a week, this info was well appreciated!

1.  When using garlic in a sauté, leave the skin on (he says that's where lots of the anti-oxidant properties live) and crush it with heel of hand or with flat blade of knife and heel of hand.  Toss the unpeeled, partially crushed head(s) of garlic into a pan with simmering extra virgin olive oil (they use LOTS of oil and are all skinny!) and cook 'til slightly browned, then add the vegetables or meat or whatever.  When serving the dish, either remove the garlic (the dish will be infused with garlic flavor in the oil) or leave it in and the diners can either eat it or discard it.  I just love the soft garlic that shoots out of the skin when you pick it up!

2.  When using raw fresh garlic (in a salad dressing, for instance), cut the clove(s) in half lengthwise and remove the tiny green sprout in the center.  Andrea said that's where the bitterness is found.  Then chop finely and add to food. It gives you a much "softer" taste.

I find people will use a lot more garlic ( a very good thing!) if they don't have to peel it.  So you can up your allicin and antioxidant intake by using more of this wonderfully medicinal food!  (So good for heart, blood pressure, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, etc)

And try this:  break up a cauliflower and broccoli head, cook the small pieces in boiling water until almost tender, drain the water, sauté the little florettes in a skillet with olive oil and the above method of crushed garlic. Cook for a while 'til desired doneness, add sea salt and red pepper flakes.  Oh, my, what a difference from steamed vegetables!  Save the boiling water for another use, soup for instance, or just drink it later.

Mary Anne Robinson, MS Bio-Nutrition