Garlic is a member of the allium family (along with onions, chives, shallots and leeks).  Native to Central Asia, it has long been used in cultures worldwide for culinary and medicinal purposes.  There are two main types of garlic: hardneck and softneck.  Most of what you see in the store is softneck, so called because it never sends up a flower stalk.  The hardneck varieties send up scapes, which should be cut off so the garlic can focus its energy on growing big bulbs, and as a bonus are a wonderful delicacy.  Garlic cloves have a pungent flavor that becomes milder when cooked.  Garlic scapes, the immature flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants, are also eaten and have a slightly milder taste than cloves.  Green garlic, or an immature garlic plant, can also be eaten like a scallion.  Garlic is widely recognized for its health benefits with studies claiming benefits from cancer prevention and immune system stimulation to a cholesterol reduction.




Store garlic in a cool, dry, and dark place for several months (it will sprout in warm temperatures). Green garlic and garlic scapes should be stored in the crisper drawer of the fridge.


General Tips 

Garlic can be pressed, minced, sliced, or mashed.  As a rule of thumb, medium sized clove will yield about a teaspoon minced.  Eat raw or cook briefly for a stronger flavor, or cook longer for a more mellow flavor.


Roasted Garlic Heads

Garlic heads

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Remove outer layers of skin on the head of garlic, while leaving the skin on individual cloves intact.  Cut ¼ inch off the top, exposing the individual cloves.  Arrange garlic heads on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Garlic is ready when soft and squeezable. Remove and let cool.  When cool enough to touch, squeeze out garlic.  Eat as is, as a spread over toast, in potatoes, on pasta, etc.



12+ cloves garlic

½+ cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

Salt and pepper

Mince or mash (with a mortar and pestle) the cloves of garlic (feel free to add more!).  Pour olive oil in a small pan.  Add garlic and cook briefly (for less than a minute); do not let it brown.  Squeeze in juice of one lemon, and add cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add more olive oil if needed.  This Cuban sauce adds wonderful flavor to anything from black beans and rice to cassava (or potatoes), and also makes an excellent pork marinade.


Green Garlic Toast

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup grated Parmesan

2 ½ T. chopped green garlic (white & green parts)

1 T. minced chives

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

Large pinch red chile flakes

Slices of crusty bread

Heat broiler.  In a bowl, mix together butter, Parmesan, green garlic, chives, salt, pepper, and chile. Spread green garlic butter on toasts, and broil for about 1-2 minutes, until tops brown slightly and butter melts.  Serve warm.  (Refrigerate or freeze (in an ice cube tray and transfer to a bag for easy use later) any leftover compound butter.)


Garlic Scape Pesto

¼ cup pine nuts

¾ cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon salt

A few generous grinds of black pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Toast pine nuts in a small, dry pan set over low heat, stirring/tossing occasionally until they begin to brown (2-3 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool.  Combine garlic scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until pretty well combined (about 20 times). Slowly pour in olive oil through the feed tube with the motor is running. Finally, once the oil is incorporated, stir in the grated cheese. (Original recipe here.)


Grilled Garlic Scapes

1 bunch garlic scapes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Cut off any tough lower parts of garlic scapes as well as thin, pointy end. Lightly spray or brush with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Throw on a grill over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, flipping once halfway, until softened and slightly browned/charred. Grilling will sweeten and mellow the flavor for a great snack/appetizer/side.


Mami’s Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 T. Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp. green garlic), diced

Put all ingredients in a closed container and shake well to emulsify. Keeps in refrigerator for up to a week. (For a variation, add 1 heaping T. of berry jam or 2 T. mashed fresh berries plus 1 tsp. honey.)