Tuesday, February 28, 2017: 7:27 am
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Garlic offers flavor and fights heart disease

There are a lot of stories about garlic—from its healing properties to its ability to ward off vampires. Some of the health benefits are backed up by research, but perhaps the most relevant fact about garlic is that it can make recipes taste great.

According to the website Garlic-Central.com, there are two main medicinal ingredients which produce the garlic health benefits: allicin and diallyl sulphides. WebMD.com says a 2007 study shows red blood cells process compounds from digested garlic and turn them into the cell messenger hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. “Therefore, eating garlic may increase our natural supply of this vital chemical and play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease,” says the website.

Cooking with Garlic

According to Garlic-Central.com, look for heads that are firm with plenty of dry, papery covering. Heads that are showing signs of sprouting are past their prime.

A single bulb of garlic can contain between 10 and 20 individual cloves of garlic. Cloves are covered with a fine pinkish/purple skin and come in a wide variety of sizes, so the numbers given in a recipe should be treated as a rough guide only.

The finer you chop garlic the stronger the taste. Crushed garlic has the strongest taste of all. Cooked whole garlic has a much milder, rather sweet taste. Garlic also mellows the longer it is cooked. Garlic added at the end of cooking will give a stronger taste than garlic prepared the same way but added earlier.

Garlic and White Bean Dip

For this simple-as-can-be dip, rich-tasting poached garlic is pureed with convenient canned beans, a little bit of onion and a dash of lemon juice. Use it as a dip for crudités, a topping for bruschetta or even as a spread for a sandwich.

1⁄2 cup roasted-garlic oil (recipe follows)

11⁄2 cups chopped onion

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed

1⁄2 cup oil-poached garlic puree (recipe follows)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Put oil, onion and salt in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the onion is softened but not browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add garlic puree and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Serve warm or cold.

Oil-Poached-Garlic Puree

& Roasted-Garlic Oil

4 cups water

4 heads garlic, cloves separated

11⁄2 cups canola oil

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add garlic, stir to submerge and let sit until the garlic skins are softened and cool enough to handle, about 50 minutes. Strain the garlic, remove the skins and cut off the hard nub where the clove was attached to the head. Place the garlic, canola oil and extra-virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan; bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low and maintain a very gentle simmer (it may be necessary to slide the pan to the edge of the burner). Simmer until the cloves are golden and very soft when pressed with a fork, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the cooled garlic to a sieve to drain, reserving the oil. Transfer the garlic to a food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. Store the puree and the oil separately in the refrigerator.


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