Dopers, Help Me Learn to Appreciate Garlic

OK, I’ve finally decided it’s time I did something about a diet which is hopelessly bland and unhealthy. With the support of a couple of gentleman friends, who’d like me “to live past 12 or whatever age you are” (yes, one’s a West Wing fan), I’m starting to try new foods. Unfortunately, last night’s experiment at an Italian restaurant was done in by me being overwhelmed by garlic.

Dopers, please help me. I know garlic is ambrosia and food of the gods to some people. I know that a life without garlic is no life at all to some people. I also know garlic never graced my mother’s kitchen and I’m from a culture which has recipes instructing you to put the clove of garlic on a skewer so you can pull it out before it gets too strong. Can you help me overcome this handicap? Can you suggest recipes, foods, or techniques to help me ease into this rather than plunging in headfirst at the deep end? Would that recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic be a place to start, or will it be the final nail in my coffin? I’ve used a trace of garlic in marinades on occaision, so I know it won’t kill me (I swear I’m not a vampire), but only rarely.

I appreciate your help with this. Who knows? If it works, maybe I’ll tackle mushrooms next! :wink:


Well, first try some normal recipes that have just a clove or three of garlic, but try blanching the garlic first once or twice. That will boil off some of the sharper tones. Use a garlic press on the remainder of the clove to ensure you never have a sharp tasting splinter of garlic. Balace the presence of garlic with other herbs like oregano and rosemary.

I dunno, Siege. Do you like any foods with very strong savory flavors? Onions, for example?

For me, eating new foods is simply a matter of plunging in. I’m not cautious with my palate. But if I were being more cautious, I think I’d start introducing garlic into items that are already strongly flavored. For example, if you like pickles, try the garlic dills. Add a pinch of onion powder to a dish that you already like.

On the other hand, you could just say, “Hey, garlic isn’t for me, what else is out there?” and try experimenting with different flavors instead.

I cannot seem to parce this sentance. Could someone please explain? :slight_smile:

Seriously. For an introduction to garlic, try garlic bread. Slice some Italian bread, put it in the toaster oven, and toast lightly. Take it out, spread a generous dose of margerine on the top, and spirinkle some garlic powder over the margerine. Put the slice back into the toaster oven (margerine side up of course), and toast until crispy.

Enjoy with pasta and sauce. (Not Atkins friendly)

Trust me, you don’t want to go there. Contrary to what my wife says, there’s nothing redeeming about mushrooms.

Garlic powder can be too sharp if you are not used to garlic, especially if it is not cooked in. I love garlic toast that you described, now. I did not use to.
Another garlic use is on top of pork roast. My husband says that it make the pork more tender, so we score the fatty top of the roast and put chopped garlic on it. You can avoid the garlic pieces easily by not eating the fat or brush them off. The flavor is nice but not overwhelming.

Mushrooms are my favorite though. Nothing redeeming indeed!

One good way to start is with some elephant garlic. You can find it near the fresh garlic in your grocery store.

It’s really big (huge cloves) and the flavor is not nearly as strong as the smaller garlic.

I definitely recommend a roast with garlic stuffed inside.

I recommend staying wayyy away from garlic powder. Too much bitter/unpleasant taste, and not enough of the good flavor.
I think it’s disgusting and I LIKE garlic.

My suggestion is to start with something like a tomato sauce with not too much garlic – ideally just enough that you can tell there’s something there, but not enough that you can overtly taste the garlic. Tomatoes do a great job of mellowing moderate amounts of garlic, and the garlic really adds a lot to the tomatoes.

If that works, you can start adding more to the sauce next time.

For garlic bread, I like to lightly fry some garlic in butter, and spread the butter (with the garlic) over the bread and put it in the broiler.

Fresh cloves are better than already cut in a jar stuff. The key trick in cutting garlic is to cut the very top end of the clove off, then mash it flat with the side of a chef’s knife or whatever you have. That miraculously makes it easy to take the paper skin off.

Garlic powder is bad, avoid it.
You should be able to find jars of crushed garlic in stores near you. This has the advantage of allowing you to use very small ammounts of garlic less than a whole clove. If you like onion, then getting to enjoy garlic shouldn’t be too difficult. Try shallots instead of onions in some recipies you like, shallots are more garlicy than onions. Any time you cook a bland premade meal, try adding a little (1/4 tsp) g\crushed garlic to the sauce half way through cooking. Several cheap microwave dinners (lean cuisine, Marie Callanders) can be made much tastier and nicer with the addition of a little garlic.
Do you eat spicy hot food at all, if you do, perhapse get a garlic chilli sauce to use instead of a straight chilli sauce. If you don’t eat chilli at all, then start another thread about chilli where dopers will help you learn the errors of your ways :wink:

My wife makes garlic-stuffed mushrooms that are just heavenly!

This isn’t the time for baby steps…plunge right in with 40 Clove Chicken! :smiley:

One thing I would caution against, however. I once had Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce over garlic & basil fettucini, with garlic bread and the aforementioned garlic mushrooms. I think I stunned every e. coli in my system. I spent the entire weekend contemplating my sins. :eek:

Garlic has got many different flavors:

  • Raw, it’s spicy-hot. See if you can get some good garlicky hummus to taste it like this; if you need, I can post my garlicky hummus recipe.
  • Roasted, it’s caramel-sweet. My wife adores garlic made like this, spread buttery-thin over slices of fresh homemade bread.
  • Sauteed, it’s dark and rich. This is my favorite way to eat it.

Here’s a simple recipe in which you can try the sauteed flavor, adjusting the strength to your preferences:

Olive Oil

-Boil up some spaghetti in salted water. Drain and set aside.
-Put some tasty olive oil in your empty spaghetti pot, and heat it over medium heat. Use a generous amount of oil: this is going to be the only sauce the spaghetti gets.
-Crush some garlic into the pot. I love me some garlic, so for a half-pound of spaghetti, I’ll do a dozen or so cloves; I’d recommend you start with a lot less, though, and see if you like the flavor.
-Add a bit of salt to taste.
-Sautee the garlic until it’s just starting to get some golden specks in it. It’s also tasty if you sautee it until it starts to turn darker brown, but that might also be pretty strong for your tastes. Start with the couple-of-golden-specks.
-Remove from heat, and stir the spaghetti in, vigorously, until the garlic-flavored oil is well-mixed in.
-Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

For me, this is the ultimate comfort food: I can eat several bowls of it, and it makes the house smell heavenly. For variety, you can top it with fresh tomatoes, basil (fresh, or dried if you can’t get fresh), black pepper, and so forth.


That is NOT garlic bread. I don’t know what it is, but I’d disown you if you served that to me and called it garlic bread (I’m considering revoking your CECIL membership just for posting it!) :stuck_out_tongue:

Garlic bread:
Start with a nice, crusty loaf of italian bread (Maus got that much right). You can either split it down the middle or you can cut it into 1" slices (bias cut). Lay out on a baking sheet.

Take some extra virgin olive oil (“EVOO”) (I prefer EVOO over butter, but butter is good too). Use about 1/4 cup in a small saucepan. Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic into the oil, add a pinch of salt and some black pepper and heat gently (lowest heat possible) for about 15-20 minutes. Using a basting brush, brush the bread with the garlic oil and toast until golden. If sliced, you can toast both sides (you’ll need more EVOO this way). Increase the amount of garlic to taste. If inviting me, 2 heads of garlic per loaf should be sufficient :cool:

I also add some crushed red pepper and either parsley or oregano to the EVOO while it is heating for additional flavor. For parmesan garlic bread, I will grate the parmesan over the bread right out of the oven, while it is still warm]

Thanks for the advice so far, folks. There’s one problem with trying garlic in red sauce – I’m not wild about tomatoes, either (I told you I was bad! :frowning: ) I buy Cooks Illustrated regularly, so I’ve got their ultimate recipe for garlic bread somewhere, and I might try it. I’m also familiar with the theories about what various preparations do to garlic.

As for spicy foods, except for black pepper and ginger, I’m afraid I’ve been hopelessly chicken, but that’s also due for a change.

Left Hand of Dorkness, I think I’ll try the spaghetti recipe; one of the gentlemen is pretty big on pasta.

I also have some dehydrated garlic from Penzeys spices which I might try adding in various amounts to things. Right now, one of my old standbys is to marinate a chop or a bit of chicken in soy sauce, garlic, and pepper, then cook it when I get home. Next time, I might try adding some of that garlic to the mix.

Please keep the advice coming. Tonight, I’m on my own, so it’s Irish soda bread and a beef chop for dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to marinate the thing first, but the soda bread will be homemade; in fact, it’s got about another 15 minutes to go.

Thanks again,

Unfortunately, dehydrated garlic has the same problems as garlic powder–a bitter, burned taste that tends to overpower your food, rather than complimenting it. Stick with the fresh stuff. If you are pressed for time, you can mince a couple of tablespoons and store it, covered with olive or vegetable oil, for a week or so.

One thing no one has mentioned yet is garlic mashed potatoes. Just add a clove or two to the pot when you start the potatoes, them mash them up as usual. It’s a very sweet, mild, rich taste.

Complements, I should say. Although dried garlic can be an insult to a good dish.

I bow to your superior garlic bread.

One note: I like to put a couple of sprigs of fresh dill in the EVOO that I use on breads.

One disclaimer: The garlic bread recipe I posted above is what my (Italian) wife makes. I like to mix minced garlic into the margerine.

Poor Maus, thanks for being such a good sport. But if D_Odds didn’t get to you first, I was going to tell the OP to run far, far away from that garlic bread recipe. Margarine? Garlic powder? What next, Miracle Whip? :smiley:

And you’re still married? That recipe is grounds for divorce with cause! :smiley:

You still lose me with margarine :eek: , but baby steps…

Most people in my household like dill…except the chef. The chef doesn’t dislike dill, but the chef doesn’t like it either, so tends to use it rarely. If the rest of them want dill, they can cook.

There’s a reason I do most of the cooking. :slight_smile:

However, you have never tasted her Sauce. She learned the recipe from her father, who learned it from his grandmother who brought it over from the area around Naples.

Yum. Seroiusly, yum.

If you’re looking on changing your diet to include foods that are good for your health, cooked tomatoes are one of the best things you can eat. It includes lypocene, potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber, alpha and beta carotene and is low in calories.

Lypocene is powerful stuff. Studies in the 1980s found that poeple who ate large amounts of tomatoes were far less likely to die from all forms of cancer. It also acts as a natural sunblock by raising the SPF of the skin.

One last geeky tomato plug:

Dr. David Snowdon at the Sanders Brown Institute of Aging at the University of Kentucky studied 88 women from the ages of 77 to 98. The women with the highest blood concentration of lypocene were the most able to care for themselves and complete every day tasks (3.6 times better able to function in their everyday lives than those with the lowest levels).

Lypocene is rare in foods, but red watermelon is another good source.

I’ve also recently changed my diet with the goal of long term health. I read the best book Superfoods: 14 Foods That Will Change Your Life from which I quoted the interesting facts about lypocene.

Since I started concentrating on eating these foods, I’ve lost 30 lbs and I’ve never felt better.

You… you… you don’t like tomatoes?

You’re really just making this up as a challenge, aren’t you?
Anway, garlic potatoes are pretty good. I do it kind of like my garlic bread: chop garlic, very lightly saute it in a hunk of butter, and mash the butter+garlic into the cooked potatoes.

I’d use a couple medium or one large clove per potato to start.