Garlic is one of my favorite seasonings, second only to salt. I realized how much I use garlic when we recently hosted a friend who is severely allergic to both garlic and onion. I practically had to relearn to cook!
I love garlic’s versatility. I cut off the top of an entire head and pour on a little olive oil. Then I wrap it in aluminum foil and roast at 400 F for 30-40 minutes (until the cloves are mushy-soft). Then I can squeeze out the slightly sweet, fragrant garlic and enjoy on crusty bread.
A close relative of onions, shallots, leeks and chives, garlic has been eaten by humans for at least 7,000 years. It’s central to many cuisines like Mediterranean, Asian, African and many dishes in Europe. Garlic is also used in traditional medicines. Garlic is the perfect condiment for an RV trip. It requires no refrigeration, and heads keep for months. Some people love elephant garlic, giant-sized cloves much milder in flavor that are actually wild leeks.
Garlic is easy to grow. Separate heads into individual cloves (leaving on protective “paper”) and plant in well-drained, sunny location. In colder climates, plant in fall (six weeks before freeze) and harvest in spring/summer. In milder climates, you can grow garlic year-round. Garlic will even grow in a pot in your RV!
When growing garlic, you’ll see curly tops, called scapes. These should be cut off. They’re delicious sauteed or eaten raw in salads. After harvest, cut off the plant’s greenery and hang the heads to dry.
Garlic is also a great excuse to travel to festivals celebrating the “stinking rose.” The Northwest Garlic Festival, one of the first, is held in Ocean Park, Washington, in June. In Gilroy, California, the self-proclaimed “Garlic Capital of the World,” a huge garlic fest happens in July. Other great garlic festivals include St. Louis, Missouri, in June; Hutchinson, Minnesota, North Plains, Oregon, and Okanogan, Washington, in August; Bloomington, Indiana, on Labor Day weekend; and Bethlehem, Connecticut, in October, among others.
One of the mistakes people make with garlic is cooking it too fast, resulting in burned, bitter garlic. This delicious cauliflower recipe avoids that problem, and makes the garlic sweet and aromatic. You can use this same technique with other hard vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts (cut into quarters).
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Break cauliflower flowers and stems into bite-sized pieces. Saute cauliflower in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes (until veggies are oily and showing some brown spots).
While vegetables are sauteeing, cut garlic into pieces the size of small pine nuts (not minced). When cauliflower looks done, stir in the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
Transfer vegetables and garlic to heatproof pan and bake for about 10 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and aromatic, but not mushy.