If you were to try and list the things to do with garlic, you would probably be on for the rest of the year. Garlic is used in so many dishes and in so many ways that it is sometimes overlooked for its own benefits. So here is a celebration of the many types of uses for garlic and a reminder why we should all try to include it in our diets.
Health benefits of garlic
The idea that garlic is good for you isn’t a new one and its benefits have been known in some form or another for centuries. In modern times, we understand why garlic is good for us and how those benefits make us healthier.
One of the simple facts is that garlic is nutritious without having many calories in it. For example, one ounce or 28 grams of garlic contains:
- 23% RDA Manganese
- 17% RDA Vitamin B6
- 15% RDA Vitamin C
- 6% RDA Selenium
It also contains 0.6 gram of fibre as well as amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorus and vitamin B1. That same amount of garlic contains 42 calories, 1.8 gram of protein and 9 grams of carbohydrates.
One of the oldest associations with garlic is that it can cure colds and there is evidence to support this because it boosts the immune system. Studies that looked at the benefits of garlic saw that people taking a daily garlic supplement saw colds reduced by 63% frequency while a higher dose of 2.56 grams a day saw the length of a cold drop by 61%.
We all know there are two types of cholesterol, the good and the bad. Garlic is shown to lower the bad levels without having a determinantal effect on the good levels. It is particularly effective for people who have high cholesterol.
Things to do with garlic cloves
Let’s start with garlic in its most basic form – the clove. A bulb of garlic often contains around 12 of these cloves and there are many uses for them. But there are a few simple ones that everyone should master to get the taste and health benefits of garlic.
Garlic oil is both great to cook with and drizzle over dishes and an excellent way to use up leftover garlic cloves. Simply add the garlic and olive oil to a pan, bring the mixture to the boil then leave to cook for around five minutes on a low heat. Set aside to cool. You can now either store or remove the garlic to use the flavoured oil.
Garlic mayonnaise or dip is properly known as aioli and can be as strong or as gentle in flavour as you like it. Mince up garlic cloves with a little salt and pepper until smooth then stir into mayonnaise and add a little fresh lemon juice. For extra flavour, add some fresh chives to the mix.
Here’s a great recipe to use them with sweet potato fries – http://ediblenashville.ediblecommunities.com/recipes/sweet-potato-fries-garlic-aioli
Things to do with roasted garlic
Apart from using the peeled cloves just as the come, roasting garlic is probably the most popular way to use the stuff. Roasting it enhances the flavour and softens the cloves a little, making them easier to use for other dishes.
Roasting garlic with other vegetables is a straightforward way to get the flavour into your veg. My husband does this a lot and then mixes the flavoured roast veg with anything from couscous and pasta to using it as a side dish with meat of some form.
For the actual roasting process, all you need to do is either cut the top off the bulb of garlic, drizzle with oil then bake in the oven for around half an hour. Alternatively, you can peel the cloves and then drizzle the oil and cook if you don’t want to have to mess around peeling them afterwards.
Once cooked, you can mash the garlic and add it to mashed potatoes or baked potatoes. You can also use it in a simple soup recipe with some chicken stock, onions and thyme, finishing it with a dash of cream.
Roasted garlic works well in hummus which itself is great in pitta breads or with breadsticks or other crudities. You will need:
- 200grams chickpeas (canned)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- two cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 100ml tahini (optional)
- 4 tbsp. water
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika to serve
Drain the chickpeas and then rinse them before adding the lemon, garlic, tahini, cumin and water and putting the mix in a blender with a touch of salt. Once it is pureed, add more lemon and garlic to taste. You can sprinkle the paprika on when you are serving it.
Things to do with garlic butter
One of my favourite potato dishes uses garlic butter and demonstrates that this type of compound butter isn’t just for garlic bread – although it does taste great on a nice slice of French stick or ciabatta. The term compound butter just means a mixture of something with the butter and when garlic is the something, it adds considerable flavour to the butter. I like to add a little dried parsley into mine too. Here’s a few ideas for garlic butter uses:
- Add to a piece of steamed fish after cooking and allow to melt over it
- Massage onto a piece of chicken before roasting to give garlic chicken
- Use to cook stir fry vegetables in place of oil
- Use to make my own garlic and parmesan potatoes
- Add to a baked potato for a different flavour
- Stir into hot plain rice
Things to do with garlic powder and salt
Garlic powder might seem like cheating but there are times that it is very useful to have around. Much like onion salt, it can be used in place of salt to add the garlic flavour to any dish. It is particularly handy in sauces because it will mix in easily and you won’t end up crunching on a piece of garlic (I’ll admit that isn’t my favourite thing). It is also handy for:
- Mixing with dried herbs and spices for a rub or to add oil and make a marinade
- Used in bread or pasta dough
- Sprinkled on pizzas
- Added to minced meat when making burgers
These same uses can work for garlic salt, which is a combination of garlic and salt. Just remember if you are using this, don’t add salt as well as this could make your dish too salty.
I’m the first to admit I am a garlic fan – I like the taste and I don’t often notice the smell. That means I probably eat quite a lot of it! But even if you need to add just a little into a dish because you aren’t a fan, it is worth it because garlic is very nutritious and can help your body get the goodness it needs to work in top condition.