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Extra Ingredients

What is garlic?

Garlic is a type of bulbous perennial plant in the Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, and shallots. It is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The bulb of the garlic plant is composed of several cloves, each of which is encased in a paper-like covering. The cloves are used for cooking and can be eaten raw or cooked. The cloves have a strong, pungent flavor and aroma.

cooking with garlic

Are there different varieties of garlic?

Yes, there are many different varieties of garlic. Some of the most commonly grown types include:

  • Softneck garlic: This type of garlic is the most widely grown and commonly found in supermarkets. It has a long storage life and typically has a milder flavor than other types of garlic. It is generally easier to grow than hardneck garlic and has a softer, more flexible stem.
  • Hardneck garlic: This type of garlic has a hard, stiff stem and a more robust flavor than softneck garlic. It has a shorter storage life than softneck garlic. Some varieties of hardneck garlic are Rocambole, Porcelain, Purple Stripe.
  • Elephant garlic: This type of garlic is not a true garlic, but a type of leek. It has a milder flavor than true garlic and larger cloves.
  • Wild garlic: which is also called ramsons, bear’s garlic, or wood garlic, it’s a wild relative of cultivated garlic.

There are many other different types of garlic available, each with its own unique flavor, appearance, and growing characteristics. Some varieties are better suited to certain types of dishes or climates, and some have a higher resistance to certain types of pests or diseases.

In addition, you may find different types of garlic depending on the place or origin, like Italian garlic, Chinese garlic, and Mexican garlic that have different characteristics depending on growing conditions and methods.

How do you cook with garlic?

Garlic is a popular ingredient in many different types of dishes and can be used in a variety of ways in cooking. Some common methods of using garlic in cooking include:

  • Minced or chopped: Garlic can be minced or chopped with a knife and added to a dish whole or sautéed in oil to release its flavor.
  • Crushed: Garlic can be crushed with the flat side of a knife or with a garlic press to release more of its flavor.
  • Whole cloves: Garlic cloves can be left whole and cooked in a dish, then removed before serving. This is often done when making soups or stocks.
  • Roasted: Garlic can be roasted whole, in their skin or peeled, it will become sweet and nutty, and can be spread on bread or added to dressings and marinades.
  • Powdered: Dried and powdered garlic can be used as a seasoning, although it will be less strong and flavorful than fresh garlic.

What are some good dishes to make with garlic?

Garlic is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. Here are a few examples of dishes that feature garlic prominently:

  • Pasta dishes: Garlic is a classic ingredient in many pasta dishes, such as spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil), fettuccine alfredo, and linguine alle vongole (linguine with clams).
  • Stir-fries: Garlic is a popular ingredient in stir-fries, where it is often added at the beginning of the cooking process to release its flavor.
  • Soups and stews: Garlic can be added to soups and stews to add depth of flavor. Minestrone and French Onion Soup are great examples of soups that use a lot of garlic.
  • Meat dishes: Garlic pairs well with meat, particularly beef and chicken. Garlic marinade is a great way to infuse flavor into meats before cooking.
  • Seafood: Garlic is a popular ingredient in seafood dishes, such as shrimp scampi, cioppino and garlic butter mussels.
  • Roasted vegetables: Garlic is great to add to a mix of vegetables to roast, it brings out a great nutty sweetness, and makes them even more delicious.
  • Pizza: Garlic can also be used as a topping on pizza, it’s a great combination with many toppings.
  • Garlic bread: Garlic bread is a classic dish, where bread is slathered with butter or oil and minced garlic, then baked until toasted and crispy.

These are just a few examples, but garlic can be added to many other dishes to enhance their flavor. Garlic can be used in both traditional and fusion dishes, and it’s a great ingredient to experiment with.

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