Garlic is associated with many things: Italian food, vampires, bad breath, etc. But, in addition to any or all of these things, garlic also happens to be a great flavor addition to almost every dish.
Eating garlic raw is not the best idea, unless you already know what it’s going to taste like. Raw garlic is very strong and will stay with you all day (on your breath, it’s hard to cover up raw garlic). Cooked however, garlic becomes very mild, sweet and enjoyable.
Garlic is a close relative of the onion, shallot, leak and chive. The bulb, or more commonly called the head, is the most frequently used part of the plant. The flower stalks, usually known as garlic scapes, are also edible. It can be grown year round in mild climates in almost every country all over the world. The plants themselves are very hardy and rarely attract any animals or pests. They are also said to deter rabbits and moles.
The largest exporter of garlic is China, topping off at over 12 million tons annually. The United States is 5th globally, exporting just over 200,000 tons.
Fun fact: The sticky juice that comes out of the cloves (for example, when mincing) is used as an adhesive for mending glass and/or porcelain in China.
Like most other vegetables, there are several varieties of garlic that are grown regionally, as well as internationally. In grocery stores, it is typical to see the standard white head of garlic. There are also several types of “wild garlic” that grow in Asia and other types of garlic that grow among weeds. Throughout Europe, the varieties of garlic change as well, not only in name and species, but color, too.
Roasted garlic is one of the best ways to experience how cooking garlic really mellows out the flavor. This recipe is ridiculously easy and peeling the garlic once it’s done takes longer than cooking it.
Easy Roasted Garlic
- However many heads of garlic you want to make
- Microwave safe bowl
- Plastic wrap
Leave the outer paper layers on the garlic head. Place the head(s) of garlic into a microwave safe bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes. The plastic wrap will start to bubble up while cooking, don’t worry, this is normal. Once the time is up, the plastic wrap will go from a huge bubble to tightly wrapping the garlic in the bowl. When you’re ready to use the garlic, just unwrap the plastic wrap (careful, it’s still hot) and peel the garlic (also be careful. The garlic sometimes becomes molten while cooking).
Oven roasted garlic takes about 45 minutes. If you have the time, try roasting it in the oven. The flavor does change between cooking it in the microwave and the oven. Just splash with some olive oil and let ‘er rip. Both ways taste great!