Garlic (Allium sativum) is an edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. Related to onions, leeks, and shallots, garlic is a versatile and pungent ingredient that has been used for culinary purposes and health reasons for millennia. Is garlic a spice, an herb, or a vegetable? However you categorize garlic doesn’t change its reputation as an indispensable ingredient in kitchens across the globe.
Garlic grows underground in bulb form, and produces long, flower stalks called garlic scapes (which are edible). The inedible, papery skin covers between 10 to 20 individual sections called cloves that are each encased in a second layer of thin skin, which needs to be removed before cooking. After peeling, you can use them whole, or slice, chop, mince, purée, grate, crush, smash, or press the garlic.
Whether you like it cooked or raw, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cooking with garlic. Garlic adds complex, savory flavors to dishes, but when not cooked properly, it can be bitter or harsh. Follow these 8 clever garlic tips to make the most of this versatile flavor booster (as well as what to do if your garlic turns green). Some cooks swear by garlic powder, which offers a mellow, savory version of the raw cloves. Add it when you add other spices.
How to store garlic
Garlic bulbs will stay fresh for a couple months if stored in a cool, dark place. Once you break the cloves apart, plan to use them within a few days (or up to a week). Avoid storing garlic in the refrigerator, which can cause the cloves to sprout.
13 ideas for cooking with garlic
- Roast whole garlic: Roasting an entire head of garlic transforms the cloves into nutty, slightly sweet culinary gold Slice the top off a head, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap well in foil and roast at 400ºF for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool and squeeze out cloves.
- Garlic butter: Mix minced garlic with softened butter and spread on crusty bread or dollop over grilled meats. For an even more decadent version, make it with mashed roasted garlic cloves.
- Garlic-infused oil: Heat olive oil over low heat with crushed garlic cloves until fragrant. Cool and store in an airtight container. Use as you would regular olive oil. We like it whisked into salad dressings or drizzled over roasted vegetables. Make it spicy by adding crushed chili flakes to the infusion.
- Garlic knots: Cut pizza dough into pieces and stretch into long pieces. Tie into knots, then brush with garlic butter. Bake until golden brown and cooked through. Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped fresh parsley leaves.
- Garlic hummus: Blend canned chickpeas with raw or roasted garlic, tahini, and lemon juice. Serve with warm pita bread and carrot sticks.
- Garlicky vinaigrette: Stir minced garlic into your favorite vinaigrette for a pungent dressing, ideal for serving with steamed artichokes or drizzling over grilled fish.
- Garlicky scrambled eggs: Cook 1 minced clove garlic in butter until fragrant, then add eggs and scramble to your liking. Bonus for spreading your toast with roasted cloves or garlic butter.
- Pickled garlic: Pickle whole cloves in vinegar with spices or add a few whole cloves to your favorite pickle recipe.
- Ginger-garlic sauce: Stir together minced garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, and a touch of honey. Serve it over steamed vegetables, rice, and tofu or fish for an easy, healthy dinner.
- Faux aioli: Stir minced garlic into mayonnaise and add a drop of lemon juice to make a shortcut aioli. Serve with french fries or fried seafood.
- Spicy garlic tofu: Marinate tofu with garlic, sliced fresh chiles, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. Let sit at least 1 hour or up to overnight, then pat dry and bake or grill.
- Roasted garlic pesto: Instead of raw garlic, use cloves of roasted garlic in your favorite pesto recipe. Whisk with the olive oil before proceeding with the method.
- Shortcut garlic-herb focaccia: Knead minced garlic, chopped herbs, and grated parmesan into store bought pizza dough. Stretch into a round, brush liberally with olive oil, then press your fingers into the dough all over. Bake at 550ºF until golden and aromatic.