Garlic is an essential ingredient in cooking, it’s as important as salt and pepper. In this article, I will show you how to cook with fresh garlic and add maximum flavour to your food.
Garlic is easily recognisable; its translucent exterior covers creamy-white cloves with either a white or deep pink skin, clustered around a central stalk. Garlic, or Allium sativum, is a member of the lily family and there are many different varieties, over 300 in fact. It dates back over 4,000 years, to Asia, where it still grows wild without human intervention. Ten million metric tons of cultivated garlic are produced every year. It’s the oldest cultivated crop in the world today.
The Health Benefits of Garlic
As well as adding flavour to our food, garlic has a wide range of health benefits. It has been used for thousands of years to treat ailments from the common cold to helping prevent certain forms of cancer. Fresh garlic contains manganese, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Here are 10 health benefits of garlic that you might find useful and interesting.
1. Garlic fights colds and flu. If you can’t bear the thought of chewing on raw garlic, stirring it into a warming soup is beneficial too. And soothing.
2. It can be helpful for people with hypertension. The allicin compound in garlic relaxes the blood vessels, so lowering blood pressure. It also helps to prevent blood clots.
3. Garlic can boost your immune system. Eating 2 raw cloves daily is recommended to help fight and prevent disease.
4. It’s good for the eyes. Garlic can reduce swelling and fight infection.
5. Garlic is rich in antioxidants. This has been said to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It also contains 17 essential amino acids, which are vital to health.
6. It’s good for your gut. Intestinal conditions such as colitis, dysentery and diarrhoea can be helped by eating fresh, raw garlic. It is also used to treat intestinal worms. The great thing about garlic is that it kills harmful bacteria but not the good bacteria in our gut – unlike antibiotics, which wipe out the good guys along with the bad guys.
7. It can help to prevent certain cancers. Colorectal, prostate and stomach cancer are on the list, but it can help with other types of cancer too, such as breast cancer. This is mainly due to the boost it gives to our immune system.
8. Garlic can help to control asthma. Having 3 garlic cloves with a glass of milk at bedtime is said to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
9. It can help to prevent heart disease. And reduce high cholesterol. It also aids recovery in people who are recovering from a heart attack.
10. Garlic slows down the onset of osteoarthritis. Studies showed that women who ate a diet rich in garlic had lower levels of this painful condition.
Source Medical News Today
Cooking With Garlic
So, garlic is good for your health. But how can you use it to enhance the flavour of your food? You will be glad to know that there are many different ways that garlic can be used in cooking, and many different and delicious recipes that use garlic as the star ingredient. I will share some of my favourite garlic recipes with you. I hope that you love them as much as I do!
Roast Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic
Now don’t be alarmed by the title of this recipe – the garlic cooks down to a mellow, almost sweet paste that goes so well with the roast chicken. Although it’s probably a good idea to avoid breathing on anyone who hasn’t been eating garlic!
1 whole chicken, preferably free-range, weighing 2 kg
1 lemon, cut in half
4 tablespoons olive oil
40 cloves of young garlic
A sprig of fresh rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
Chicken stock for the gravy
Salt and pepper
To prepare the chicken for roasting, put it into a deep-sided roasting tin and drizzle over the olive oil. Use your hands to massage it in, season generously with salt and pepper and push the lemon halves inside the cavity of the chicken. Place in a hot oven, gas 9/240C/475F for about 25 minutes. The skin should be starting to turn golden brown.
Meanwhile, remove the skin from each head of garlic (you will need 2-3 bulbs in total) and separate the cloves. No need to peel them, the skin will help prevent the garlic from overcooking. Remove the chicken from the oven, lift it out of the roasting tin, and scatter the cloves of garlic and the rosemary all over the base of the tin. Replace the chicken and pop it back into the oven, reducing the temperature to gas 4/180C/350F and cook for a further hour and 30 minutes.
To test if the chicken is done, push a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the leg. If only clear juices seep out, it’s cooked. If the juices are tinged with pink, give it another 10 minutes and test again.
Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer it to a carving board. Use a slotted spoon to lift the garlic cloves out of the tin and put them into a bowl. Pour in some chicken stock or white wine to deglaze the pan – putting the roasting tin containing the cooking juices on a low heat and stirring until combined and slightly thickened.
Carve the chicken into thick slices and serve with the garlic cloves on the side and the gravy poured over. The best way to eat this dish is to pop the garlic cloves out of their papery skins and spread the deep yellow, butter-soft puree onto each piece of chicken as you eat it. Good served with mashed potatoes to soak up the wonderful sauce.
This dish will remind you of eating outside a chic cafe in Paris. The flavours are so good, and it’s easy to prepare and cook. Make sure that you cook the mussels on the same day that you buy them. Serves 4.
4 dozen mussels, scrubbed and ‘beards’ removed
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
300 ml dry white wine
Salt and pepper
Butter for frying
First of all, prepare the mussels. Put them in a sink and wash them under running water. If they have beards (clumps of fibre sticking out of the shell) use a brush to scrub them off. If any mussel shells are already open, tap the mussel on the sink. If it closes, it’s fine. If it doesn’t close, discard it.
Melt the butter in a large, deep pan and when sizzling, add the shallots. Lower the heat slightly and cook the shallots for about 10 minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute then pour in the wine, season and tip in the cleaned mussels. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pan and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. If any shells remain closed then discard them.
Tip the mussels into individual serving bowls (soup bowls are ideal) and ladle over the wine and garlic sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with crusty French bread or Frites (fries) If you want to be polite, use forks to scoop the mussels out of their shells. If not, use your fingers!
*To make this dish extra-special, add 100 ml of double cream to the wine mixture before serving.
Whole Roasted Garlic
Roasting garlic produces the most wonderful, sweet, buttery puree that you’ve ever dreamed of. It can be added to soups, pasta, casseroles, mashed potato or just spread onto crusty bread and dipped in olive oil. This puree will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
4 large bulbs of garlic
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cut the garlic bulbs in half through the middle and place them cut side up in a shallow baking dish. Pour over the olive oil and tuck sprigs of thyme amongst the bulbs. Roast in a preheated oven, gas 4/180C/350F for about 45 minutes, basting them with the oil a couple of times during cooking. The edges of the exposed cloves should be starting to turn golden brown.
Use a teaspoon to scoop the cooked garlic from the skin – it should be soft enough to squash between your fingers – and mash to a puree. Transfer to a jar, cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil and then with a round of foil. Store in the fridge until needed.
*This is really nice stirred into some good-quality mayonnaise for a quick aioli.
Linguine with Prawns and Lemon
This is a lovely, fresh-tasting pasta dish. Seafood always goes well with pasta and the addition of lemon and garlic takes it to a whole new level. Serves 4.
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g cooked unpeeled prawns
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small lemon
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
A bunch of fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
350g linguine or spaghetti
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic for 2 minutes over a low heat. Peel the prawns and add them to the pan to warm through then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and season with salt and pepper. Grate the zest from the other half of the lemon and add it to the pan. dd the halved cherry tomatoes.
Drain the linguine, keeping back some of the cooking water. Tip it into the pan containing the prawns and stir well until combined. Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with chopped parsley and accompanied by crusty bread or garlic bread.
*To save time, you can use prawns that have already been peeled. But the flavour won’t be quite as good.
Very Garlicky Grilled Steak
This dish is for serious garlic lovers. It’s very simple to make but so tasty. Serves 4.
4 rump or sirloin steaks, about 225g each and 2.5 cm thick
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Remove the steaks from the fridge an hour before you want to cook them. Crush the garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar, or use the flat side of a knife to press down on the cloves until they break apart. Stir in the oil, lemon juice, chilli flakes and Worcestershire sauce and pour over the steaks. Leave to marinate in a cool place, covered with clingfilm, for about 2 hours to allow the flavours to develop.
Lift the steaks out of the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill them under a preheated grill, medium heat, turning once. Brush the steaks with the garlic marinade during cooking for maximum flavour. The steaks should take about 5 minutes on each side but you can cook them for a bit longer if you like your steak medium-well.
Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes then serve with a salad, or some fries or new potatoes with the juices poured over.
Lemon and Garlic New Potatoes
These are delicious and go with just about anything. Or you can eat them as a snack dunked into garlic mayonnaise. Serves 4.
500g of new potatoes, washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted water for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and cut them in half, then tip them back into the pan and give it a good shake. This will roughen up the edges and help the potatoes to go crisp.
Heat the oil and butter together in a pan until sizzling. Tip in the cooked potatoes and fry over a fairly high heat, turning often, until the potatoes are browned and crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Garlic and Tortellini Soup
This is a very substantial soup that doesn’t need anything to go with it. But you can have some crusty bread if you want. Serves 6.
15g of butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1.2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
250g pack of cheese-filled tortellini
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
285g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
Salt and pepper
Grated fresh Parmesan to serve
Heat the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and stir then cook for 1 minute. Pour in the stock and tinned tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and add the tortellini. Allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for 5 – 7 minutes until the tortellini are cooked. Stir in the defrosted spinach and heat through for a couple of minutes. Serve in warmed bowls with Parmesan sprinkled over.
I hope that you enjoyed reading about garlic and that you will try some of the recipes. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
For more information about herbs and spices and how to add more flavour to your food see this post on herbs and spices and their uses
8 thoughts on “How to Cook With Fresh Garlic”
Oh I absolutely love cooking with garlic, my mum is not a huge fan of the smell so if we have her over for dinner this amazing ingredient has to be left off the menu.
I love some of these recipe suggestions and I’m keen to try the garlic and tortellini soup along with the lemon and garlic new potatoes, though not on the same day haha.
Hi Danny, thanks for your comments. It’s a shame your mum doesn’t like the smell of garlic. I wonder if you could get her to try the roasted garlic? The flavour is completely different and the smell is a lot less pungent.
If you’re not going out in public one day, have the soup and the potatoes. The potatoes are delicious! And as a cheese lover, you could definitely grate your favourite cheese over the potatoes and allow it to melt before tucking in!
I believe that garlic is the boom, this herb has such a great aroma, flavor, and taste and what is also good about garlic is the many health benefits that it has. As a child growing up I remember the days when my father cooked with garlic he really loved garlic and I love it also. Thanks so much for sharing.
Hi Norman, it’s amazing how a certain smell can bring back so many memories isn’t it? My dad also used garlic a lot in cooking, I loved it. It adds flavour to any savoury dish and is good friends with potatoes, meat, poultry, fish and pasta. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, pop back soon
Thank you very much for this valuable detailed post about Garlic. Actually, I like garlic very much. But I don’t know that there are so many benefits from them. If I fried garlic, eat it. It’s actually very tasty. But I didn’t eat it with this roast chicken. I will definitely try it. Keep posting valuable posts like this. I will definitely share this.
Hi Pasindu, I’m glad you found the article educational. If you click on the blue link in the post you can find out even more about garlic. The roast chicken is delicious, and not too overpowering. Do try it!
Congratulations on writing a really engaging and informative post about cooking with garlic. I habitually reach for the garlic almost as soon as i enter the kitchen, although I must confess I tend to use a lazy pre-chopped option!
I have to say though that the product sounds remarkably similar to the paste you describe that results from roasting garlic whole – I’m really excited to give this a try and see if I can get this to work as I’d love have a home prepped option here that offers all the same convenience!
Hi Stephen, thanks for your kind comments! You must try the roasted garlic, the taste profile changes considerably from raw or fried garlic. As long as you store it in the fridge and keep the purée covered with a layer of oil it will keep for some time.
My favourite way of eating the purée is to butter some warm bread and spread the garlic paste over the butter. I could eat a lot of this! Once you’ve tried it you’ll be hooked and thinking of other ways you can use it. Let me know how you get on