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Very Useful Tips on Cooking with Garlic

Updated on August 15, 2015
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Penelope has three grandchildren, two girls and one boy- so far. They have beautiful names! She writes stories and she tells them stories.

Chopping Garlic for a Spaghetti Dish

Chopping garlic (and chili) for Pecorino Garlic and Chili Sauce for Spaghetti
Chopping garlic (and chili) for Pecorino Garlic and Chili Sauce for Spaghetti | Source

Garlic in Cooking

Garlic is fresh for such a short time. In Italy it's on the market stands in late spring. It isn't strong when it is new. It's vibrantly garlic, like a baby sister to big old bro'. It makes all the dishes that more fantastic for the two or three weeks that is so fresh, (like a superb minestrone, or a fresh fish soup).

Like everything that grows in our world though, it begins its aging process and becomes something else. It becomes the garlic we are more used to eating. (Please see the video). It is still very delicious but it isn't so vibrant. It's the 'big old bro' of tastes!

As time goes on in the year this garlic grows a shoot down the middle of each clove (from which new plants could grow - if planted and watered!). The shoot is green. It isn't poisonous or horrible, it's just got a slightly more bitter taste to it and folk with delicate tummies sometimes complain of indigestion.

It's best to take the green shoot out if you are going to be making meals -

  • with finely chopped or finely sliced garlic
  • roughly chopped or halved garlic
  • halved garlic squeezed on toast for bruschetta

On the other hand, if you're going to be making dishes with whole cloves, such as roast potatoes or garlic soup, or slowly braised meats, then you can certainly leave the thin film on and the shoot in and let the garlic get soft and ooze it's sweetness out!

Best not to use old garlic (if you can avoid it), which is soft and which is brownish when you peel off the thin film.

When to Use Chopped Garlic

Here are some very rough guidelines to when to use which differently sized chopped garlic. The meals here are general examples of types of meals, though your recipe will probably tell you "finely chop" or "slice" or "roughly chop".

When the recipe calls for "finely chopped" it's going to be for foods that cook quickly, such as vegetables or shrimp. If it's "roughly" chopped its for foods that will take longer to cook such as chopped chicken, so the flavor takes a longer time to exude.

When its "whole", it's going to take a while to impart its secrets. Whole roasted garlic is sweet to taste, not at all pungent or harsh

Here's my rough guide!

Tomato Sauce and Vegetable Sauce

Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce | Source
Stuffed Courgette in Tomato Sauce with Garlic
Stuffed Courgette in Tomato Sauce with Garlic | Source

Italian Pasta Sauces

'Tomato Sauce' for pasta or risotto (or other vegetable sauces):

Finely chopped garlic without the little green shoot is tasty when it's tossed in the pan with extra virgin olive oil and chili for a very short time before tomatoes (or other vegetables) are added and cooked together.

A tomato sauce makes for a flavorful way to cook lots of vegetables including courgette and also for cauliflower leaves as well as bitter greens such as chicory or chard. You would only need a few cloves of garlic, not too many.

It's tasty chopped very, very fine and heated in butter for garlic bread, which you slice, sprinkle with melted garlicy butter, then wrap in tin foil and bake in the oven for approx 15-20 minutes.

'Meat Sauce' for pasta:

Garlic chopped a lot more coarsely and mixed with finely sliced onion and chili make a good flavor for meats which are browned in extra virgin olive oil - as a preparation to cooking them for longer with wine or stock and herbs.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore with Garlic and Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar
Chicken Cacciatore with Garlic and Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar | Source

Garlic in Cooking Meat and Fish

Roast meats and fish:

Whole or halved garlic cloves make some meat types tastier, especially inserted between the lean and the fat then roasted or tossed in the pan.

Pan, grilling or barbeque steaks have to be an exception! They taste better with just salt.

If fish is fresh, it doesn't need garlic. Okay shrimp and co love it!

I love fresh water fish such as trout with garlic (and sage).


Bruschetta

Brushetta:

Half slices of garlic (with the green shoot removed) squeezed onto hot toast then sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and salt makes a tasty dish!


If you enjoyed this hub, please rate it! Buon appetito!

Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

Roast Potatoes just about to go in the oven with whole cloves of garlic and rosemary
Roast Potatoes just about to go in the oven with whole cloves of garlic and rosemary | Source
Roast potatoes out of the oven
Roast potatoes out of the oven | Source

Roast Potatoes and Garlic

Roast vegetables:

A roasting dish filled with halved, potatoes, extra virgin olive oil and with a handful of whole garlic cloves, (in their film and with the shoot in, though crushed by a bang with a chopping knife handle) and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary are hard to beat.

How do You Rate This Article on Using Garlic Without the Green Shoot?

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© 2013 Penelope Hart

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