Buying and Using Garlic
Garlic in its fresh form seems to provide the most health benefits. This is good news for cooks and those who love the delicious flavor punch that garlic adds to food. When shopping for garlic, look for cloves that are plump and without blemishes. Avoid cloves that are soft, shriveled, or moldy or that have begun to sprout. Store your whole garlic heads in a dark, cool place, keeping them away from dampness and sunlight. Once the head of garlic is broken, however, its shelf life is reduced, so keep cloves whole until needed.
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It's easy to separate individual cloves of garlic from the head, but some cooks find peeling them a challenge. The most effective way is to place a garlic clove on a cutting board and press down on it with the flat side of a knife. The skin will break and be easy to remove. The green shoot in the center can be bitter, so remove it with the point of a knife.
Here are just a few ideas for incorporating garlic into your diet:
• Add chopped garlic when sautéing greens such as spinach, kale, or broccoli rabe.
• Add chopped garlic to soups, stews, and pasta sauces.
• Roast potatoes and whole cloves of garlic and puree them together with a bit of olive oil for garlic mashed potatoes.
• Add a bit of finely minced garlic to salad dressings.
You'll get maximum effect of the phytonutrients by including raw garlic in some of your dishes. The trick here is not to overdo. Just one clove, or even a half clove, of finely minced raw garlic in dressings, dips, and guacamole adds great flavor without overpowering the dish.
NEW VEGETABLE TIP
Sauté a couple of minced cloves of garlic in a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, and then add broccoli, carrots, or other vegetable and give the pan a shake. Add a few tablespoons of broth or water and allow the vegetables to steam until tender.