Fresh Garlic. There is nothing like it. Yes, it’s pungent aroma lingers, but you can’t beat the flavor. I grew up only knowing garlic powder and garlic salt. The fresh stuff never made it’s way into our kitchen. So when I married and began cooking for my husband, of course I started using things I wanted to try in my cooking and those chefs on TV always used fresh garlic. Plus the kind in the jar is just nasty! They have to put so many preservatives in that jar to keep the garlic from going bad, you’re practically eating embalming fluid every time you touch that stuff. As a matter of fact, some brands use formaldehyde as their preservative! Yikes!
Heads versus Cloves
It is important to know what you are getting and how to use it as this story will illustrate. A woman heard about a recipe for Lasagna with 40 Cloves of Garlic. She thought it sounded delicious so she bought the ingredients and made the recipe. While it was cooking in the oven the smell of garlic became overwhelming. When she served it, her husband wouldn’t eat it. She tasted it and it was awful, inedible. So she took the whole pan and dumped it in the woods behind their house. The cat found the lasagna. The cat ate the lasagna. The cat died. Now this is a made up story I’m sure, and no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post! But the moral of the story is she didn’t know the difference between a head of garlic and a clove of garlic. She had put 40 heads of garlic into her recipe and had created Killer Lasagna. So, that little piece by itself in the middle of the picture above? That’s a clove. Many recipes call for only one or two of those.
How to Buy
You will find whole heads of garlic in the grocery store which you can buy for less than a dollar. Make sure they are white, with no green sprouts growing through the top. They should feel solid, not squishy or hollow. And look at the roots. Make sure you see roots on the bottom. If the roots have been sliced off, the garlic is imported from another country and there may be contaminants. You don’t want to eat that or serve it to your family.
Uses in Cooking
There are many ways to cook with garlic. You can peel it and slice it, or crush it. You can mash it into a paste with a little coarse salt (helps with the mashing). You can finely mince it but often that leaves a garlic smell on your hands for days. The most common way to use garlic in my kitchen is to press it with a garlic press. Use a press that can be easily cleaned. I had one that had about 3 different parts to it and it was more work than it was worth. Also, you want a press that truly presses the garlic completely so you are using the whole clove and not throwing most of it away when you clean the press. I like my garlic press because it can be used with the peel still on the clove (no smelly fingers). And also because it comes with a cleaning tool to get the peel back out of the press (again no smelly fingers).
I do still use garlic powder (sometimes called granulated garlic) and often I’ll use it in the same recipe with fresh garlic especially in something like chili or an Italian dish (like lasagna).
Just for you, here’s how we made lasagna last night.
- 1 16 oz. container Ricotta cheese
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 T. Parmesan Garlic Oil Dipping Seasoning
- Combine these ingredients together with a whisk until smooth.
- 1 lb. whole milk mozzarella cheese sliced into thin planks
- 3 medium zucchini sliced into thin planks (I used my Simple Slicer for that)
- 1 jar of good quality spaghetti sauce or marinara (I used tomato basil sauce)
- 1/4 of a small red onion, finely diced
- 1 or 2 clove(s) of garlic, pressed
- Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauce pan. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the jar of sauce and stir together. Layer sauce, zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, about 3 times ending with mozzarella in an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Do not overfill your pan as the water from the zucchini will combine with the sauce as it cooks and your lasagna will bubble over in the oven (like mine did).
- Bake at 350⁰ for approximately 40 minutes or until your cheese looks dark and bubbly. Enjoy!