Garlic Makes Everything Better! Pesto Recipe, Too.
“Garlic makes everything better” according to my daughter, Katte. Some of her favorite foods are garlic mashed potatoes and pasta with marinara sauce loaded with garlic. I agree with her. Adding garlic to a recipe almost always will make it more flavorful.
Did you know that garlic is one of the oldest known cultivated plants in the world? It has been grown for over 5000 years, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods. Garlic is referred to in Bible as the Hebrews were in the desert (Numbers 11:5) remembering the good food they had left in Egypt, including garlic and onions. The website Herballegacy.com explains that garlic and onions were given to the slaves in Egypt to increase their strength and protect them from disease.
Garlic contains a number of sulfur compounds, allicin in particular, that function as powerful antifungal and antibacterial agents. Allicin is also responsible for the characteristic smell of garlic, which was said to ward off vampires! Lab studies have shown garlic to be effective against the common cold, flu, stomach viruses and Candida yeast among other pathogens. Garlic also aids in the production of the antioxidant glutathione in the body. Glutathione plays many important roles including increasing immune function and protecting against cancer. All sulfur containing foods, including garlic, help boost glutathione production.
To best use garlic, you should have fresh bulbs and then chop finely or press the cloves. Chopping or pressing allows more allicin to be produced because the cell walls of the garlic are broken. It should sit for 5-10 minutes before use for the optimal level of allicin to be generated. Then you can use the garlic raw or put it into a dish to be cooked. Ideally you should cook garlic no more than 15 minutes for greatest nutrient benefit. If you cook longer it will still taste great, but many of the nutrients are reduced.
One of my favorite ways to eat garlic is raw in pesto sauce. My recipe for homemade pesto is shown below.
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic ¼ cup pine nuts or pecans
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Combine basil, garlic and nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or can be frozen for up to three months.