Copyright © 2008--2016 Ted Jordan Meredith. All Rights Reserved


Corn on the Cob with Garlic and Olive Oil

4 cooked ears of corn
4 medium cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp. salt

Crush or finely mince the garlic and place in a small bowl. Add the salt and press the salt into the garlic with the back of a spoon macerating the garlic into a slurry. Add olive oil, mix, and drizzle or brush over the ears of cooked corn.

Rich in character but relatively mild in heat, Rocambole garlics are particularly good in this recipe. Vary the amount of salt, garlic, and oil according to your taste.

Any oil and garlic remaining on the plate can be mopped up with a piece of good French bread. Other variations include a squeeze of lemon or freshly ground black pepper.

This is my mother’s recipe and a big family favorite.

Roasted Garlic, Fresh Goat Cheese, and Arugula on French Bread

1 head of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
French bread
fresh goat cheese (Chèvre)

Remove the outer skins from a head of garlic. Slice off the top of the head so that the clove tips are exposed. Drizzle with oil, add a tablespoon of water, cover in foil, and roast at 350°F for about an hour. Lightly toast slices of crusty French bread, drizzle or spritz with olive oil, and lightly salt. Squeeze the roasted garlic paste from the skins and spread on the oiled toast. Top with a smear of goat cheese and chopped arugula. For a closed sandwich, place another piece of oiled toasted bread on top.

Richly flavored Purple Stripe garlics are particularly good for roasting. Alternatives or additions to arugula include roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes, minced chives, chopped Kalamata olives, or any number of other variations that might appeal.

Garlic and Olive Oil Bread Dip

extra virgin olive oil

In restaurants one sometimes encounters a dish of olive oil, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for dipping bread---a healthy and tasty alternative to butter. This alternate version features the nutty toasty character of minced sautéed garlic. This preparation method brings out the best in any garlic but is especially good with garlics having a deep, complex character, such as Asiatics, Creoles, Rocamboles, and Purple Stripes. On the other hand, if you have some aggressive Silverskins on hand, this will tame their harshness and bring out their nutty best.

Finely mince (do not use a garlic press to crush) several cloves of garlic and sauté in several tablespoons of olive oil. Adjust quantities as needed. As the sautéing begins, salt the garlic to taste, and stir occasionally until the garlic is a straw to light tan color. Undercooked and white, the garlic will be less richly flavored and nutty. Overcooked and dark brown, the garlic will begin to taste burnt and acrid. Cooked to a straw to light tan color, and the flavors will be ambrosially rich and nutty. Transfer the garlic and flavored olive oil into a shallow dish or small bowl.

To eat, dip a piece of good crusty bread into the mixture so that each bite has a bit of the oil and some garlic bits. For a more substantial snack or appetizer, cheese is an excellent accompaniment, as are garden tomatoes and basil, for a variation on the bruschetta theme.

Pasta with Garlic, Bacon, and Beet Greens or Chard

1 large bunch of chard or beet greens
4 slices bacon
1 medium head of garlic
6 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta
extra virgin olive oil
grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper

Remove stems from the chard or beet greens and reserve for another use. Coarsely chop the greens and set aside. For a more rustic version you can include the chopped stems. Sauté the bacon until crisp, remove from pan, and mince or crumble after it has cooled. Begin heating the pasta water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat from the sauté pan. Mince garlic, add to pan, lightly salt, and sauté until straw or light tan color. Add the chopped greens, toss, and cover to steam, stirring occasionally. Sprinkles of water can be added as necessary so the greens cook in their own steam without drying. Cook about 7 to 10 minutes, or to desired doneness. Stir in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss with the drained pasta, add grated Romano and the crumbled bacon bits, and toss again. Plate and top with additional grated Romano.

Any pasta will do, but the farfalle provides a large flat area so that the greens stick well and do not end up at the bottom of the plate. Myzythra is an alternative to Romano. Parmesan is another possibility, but in this dish the sheep’s milk character of (authentic) Romano or Myzythra seem to complement the greens particularly well. Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Asiatic, and some of the more flavorful Artichoke garlics suit this preparation well.

Sliced Sirloin Steak with Garlic, Marsala, and Mushrooms

1 pound top sirloin steak
8 medium cloves of garlic, minced
4 to 6 ounces of mushrooms
1/3 cup beef stock
1/3 cup dry Marsala
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the mushrooms in half, then cut the halves into slices. Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil, lightly salting to help them lose moisture and lightly brown. Remove from pan. Press salt and freshly ground black pepper into both sides of the steak. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil and sauté the steak until brown on both sides and medium to medium rare. Remove from pan and set aside on cutting board to rest. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and sauté the minced garlic until straw to light tan color. Raise the heat to high and add the Marsala and beef stock, scraping the pan to merge the fond into the mixture. Add any juices that may have seeped from the steak. Reduce the liquid to about 1/4 of the original quantity and stir in the cooked mushrooms. Meanwhile, thinly slice the steak on the bias, add to the mixture in the pan, toss to coat, then plate.

This is a very flexible preparation. Dry sherry, dry vermouth, and red or white wine are alternatives to Marsala. Thyme, rosemary, basil, and parsley all work well as herb additions. Capers can add a pungent counterpoint. Purple Stripe, Rocambole, and Asiatic garlics work particularly well with recipe.

Pasta with Garlic, Ham, and Summer Squash

4 to 6 small to medium zucchini or other summer squash.
2 to 4 ounces of quality ham
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium head of minced garlic
4 to 6 ounces orecchiette pasta
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Slice the zucchini lengthwise into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the squash, then cut crosswise into pieces about 1/4 in. thick. Slice the ham thinly, then cut lengthwise, and then crosswise, forming roughly dime-sized pieces. Begin heating the pasta water and cook pasta until al dente. Sauté the ham in the olive oil until it begins to brown. Add minced garlic to the pan and sauté until straw to light tan color. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt, and toss. Sauté on high heat so that the zucchini will lose its moisture and begin to brown. Moderate the heat as necessary to keep the garlic from burning as the zucchini lightly browns. When the zucchini is lightly browned, and tender but not mushy, add the cooked pasta and toss. Next, add half the Parmesan and toss again. Plate and top with the remaining Parmesan.

The ham is primarily for flavor, so a high quality dry ham is preferable, and less will be required for the desired flavor effect. The water added sponges that sometimes pass for ham in the supermarket can be used if none other is available, but more will be required and the overall result will not be quite as good. Many other pasta shapes will also work, though spaghetti and its linear relatives do not lend themselves to uniform distribution with the zucchini mixture. Romano, Myzythra, and Asiago are other good cheese alternatives.

Summer squash is in its prime about the time the Rocambole garlics are in their prime, and this has become a favorite dish that features both.

Garlic Dressing

1/8 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 medium clove or more of garlic
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Peel the garlic and mince finely or crush through a garlic press into a small bowl. Add the salt and press into the garlic with the back of a spoon until the garlic forms a paste. Add freshly ground black pepper and vinegar, then whisk. Add the olive oil and whisk again to blend. Pour over salad greens and toss.

Vary the amount of garlic, salt, and vinegar according to taste. Add herbs with the vinegar as desired. For a dressing for cooked vegetables, reduce the amount of vinegar by half or so. The dressing works well with cooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, most greens, and various other vegetables.

This calls for a garlic that is richly flavored but mild in heat. Rocamboles are ideal. After they have passed their prime, Purple Stripes are excellent substitutes. After Purple Stripes have passed their prime, Ajo Rojo and some of the “sweeter” Creoles are good choices.