Recipe Corner: Garlic

by Lorna Sass

I love what Alice May Brock says about garlic in Alice's Restaurant Cookbook, made infamous by Arlo Guthrie in song:

"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good."

Not everyone agrees, however, since garlic is one of the cook's most mercurial ingredients. Use it raw for a taste that is bold, strident, and long-lasting. Roast a whole head of garlic and squeeze the flesh from the cloves. Then garlic becomes as creamy as butter and as mild as milk.

Most of us think of garlic as the bulb that goes by that name in a supermarket, but those who are lucky enough to grow their own or have access to heirloom varieties can enjoy the nuances of the Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Chesnok Red varieties. I have not had the opportunity to try these, but if you have, I'd love to hear what they taste like and how you use them.

Meanwhile, here is a summery munch that allows you to use garlic roasted or raw, depending upon whether your mood is bold or mellow.

Lorna Sass is a widely published food writer and an award-winning cookbook author. Her Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way cookbook won the 2007 James Beard Foundation award for the best cookbook in the Healthy Focus category. Visit her listing on our website.

Wholegrain Tapenade in Cucumber Boats

This zesty finger food is fun to serve at a barbecue and offers a fetching way to present whole grains in the context of familiar flavors. The tapenade provides intense olive saltiness and the whole grains give the mixture a pleasing chewiness. Watery, refreshing cucumber and mild goat cheese offer a nice balance to the tapenade's assertive flavor.

Makes about eighteen 1-inch "boats"

  • 3/4 cup cooked whole grains, such as wheat berries, farro, or barley
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or other brined olives
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves roasted garlic or 1 clove raw
  • 1 teaspoon capers or 1 anchovy (rinse if packed in salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 3 to 4 ounces creamy goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish

In a processor or blender, process half of the grains with the olives, oil, garlic, anchovy, lemon zest, and mustard into a coarse paste. Add the remaining grains and pulse until some of them are coarsely chopped and others still remain whole. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two or water to facilitate processing.

Fill the hollows of each cucumber half with the tapenade. Spoon small bits of goat cheese about an inch apart on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Trim off the ends and cut each cucumber half into 1-inch pieces.

Back to the August 2007 Newsletter