April is a three-ring circus of celebrations: Passover and Easter, Queen Elizabeth’s 96th birthday, and National Garlic Month. The Queen won’t be celebrating garlic at her upcoming Platinum Jubilee, though. She doesn’t like it. It is up to us, mere peasants, to enjoy this springtime bounty. I am happy to step unto the breach. https://www.finegardening.com/article/celebrate-national-garlic-month
Garlic has long been regarded as peasant food because it is cheap, easy to grow, and adds flavor to other modest ingredients. Garlic dresses up a simple salad, a humble roast chicken, and is vital to the success of spicy pasta sauces.
Alice Waters, queen of fresh and local foods, dresses her mesclun salad with a garlic vinaigrette that is easy and deelish: https://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/65106/
James Beard famously cooked a 40-clove chicken. https://www.jamesbeard.org/recipes/chicken-with-40-cloves-of-garlic
When Mr. Sanders is away, this is my default indulgent dinner, pasta with butter and garlic: https://food52.com/recipes/84628-garlic-butter-sauce-for-pasta-recipe
When Mr. Sanders is cooking, he opts for a day-long, multi-step, many-cans-of-tomatoes pasta sauce. I tend to wax poetical (and often) about his sauce: https://chestertownspy.org/2013/06/14/food-friday-the-luxury-of-homemade-spaghetti-sauce/ And another time: https://chestertownspy.org/2022/01/14/food-friday-spaghetti-sauce-by-the-bucket/
But, if you aren’t up for a day in the kitchen, let’s simplify. It’s the perfect time for grilling asparagus! https://tastecooking.com/recipes/grilled-asparagus-miso-butter/ And Rachel Ray has dozens of garlic ideas for a riotous month of garlic celebration: https://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/recipes-for-national-garlic-month
I buy fresh garlic cloves, but keep garlic powder in the spice drawer to add a little delishishness wherever I can. I always sprinkle some on freshly fried croutons. I keep a plastic squeeze bottle filled with garlic cloves and olive oil to squeeze onto pizza dough, or in a frying pan. There is a subtler air to garlic aromas when using garlic-infused oil. Nothing smells better, though, than rounding a corner in our little house and walking through a wall of garlic. Yumsters.
I have never bought a jar of pre-peeled garlic, or a jar of prepared crushed garlic, so I can’t say how they taste. I always think it must be like buying grated cheese – how can it taste as fresh as doing it yourself?
There are, of course, health benefits to eating garlic. Don’t forget to take your grain of salt, too: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/6-surprising-ways-garlic-boosts-your-health/
This year I have planted an experimental row of garlic in the Spy Test Kitchen Garden, along with the sunflower seeds I have planted for Ukraine. It should be an interesting spring. I’ll let you know how the harvests turn out.
We love our garlic here in the Spy Test Kitchens. We don’t need to follow a recipe for some of the best versions of it. Garlic bread, you ask? Easy peasy. Split a loaf of French bread lengthwise, and stick it under the broiler until it is golden brown. (Keep extra bread on hand in case you get distracted by Luke the wonder dog and find a cookie sheet of smoldering ash upon your return to the real world.) Let the bread cool, and then rub a clove (or two) of peeled garlic over the toasted surfaces. Scrape your fingertips and your knuckles while ensuring every inch gets a good, thick, garlicky coating. Drizzle the bread with excellent, fragrantly-green olive oil, and add pats of good butter. Return the bread to the warm oven to melt the butter. Remove from oven and tear the bread with your ravenous paws and enjoy it with your tender, fresh, garden salad and a nice glass of wine. Spring is here. Sit out on the back porch, listen to the crazy robins, and wait for the first fireflies.
“Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”
– Anthony Bourdain