GARLIC HAS A LONG history of culinary and medicinal uses.

In medieval times, garlic was thought to keep vampires and other evils away. And in more current times, research indicates that garlic may have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.

It’s also really tasty.

If you need one more excuse to break out the bulbs this month, National Garlic Day is April 19, making this an excellent time get cooking with this pungent ingredient.

I use garlic often so rather than peel and chop cloves of garlic every time I need some, I toss a bunch of cloves in a food processor and pulse it several times. I store the chopped garlic in a container in the refrigerator and have garlic on hand for the week.

Another great way to store garlic is to make garlic confit — garlic cloves slow roasted in oil.

All you do is add peeled garlic to an ovenproof dish, cover it in oil, then set it in an oven heated to 200 degrees and let it slow roast for three hours.

Transfer the garlic and oil to a lidded jar and keep it in the fridge for two months. Anytime you want to add a punch of flavor to a dish or spread a roasted clove on some crusty bread, all you have to do it reach for the jar.

And if you haven’t tried black garlic, it’s worth looking for.

Black garlic is an aged garlic made when regular garlic bulbs are slow cooked for at least two weeks or until the cloves are caramelized and black.

Black Garlic & Balsamic Glazed Chicken

4 chicken breasts, grilled or roasted

4 cloves black garlic

2 teaspoons water

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar glaze

Add the black garlic, water, molasses and balsamic glaze to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Transfer to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from heat and let set for about 15 minutes before drizzling over chicken breasts. Store any unused glaze in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Garlic Confit

3 bulbs of garlic, peeled

2 cups oil, such as olive oil or vegetable oil (or enough to cover the cloves)

Add peeled garlic cloves to an ovenproof saucepan. Pour oil over the cloves (the oil should completely cover the cloves.)

Set in an oven preheated to 200 degrees and cook for 3 hours. Remove from oven and cool, then transfer to a lidded jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Roasted Garlic Potato Cakes

1 bulb garlic

4 cups mashed potatoes

3 tablespoons potato starch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup flour

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, if desired for garnish

Use a sharp knife to cut the pointed end off the garlic bulb so the tips of the cloves are exposed.

Wrap the garlic bulb in aluminum foil and set in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Roast the bulb for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bulb is soft. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

Add mashed potatoes to a large bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the bulb and add to the mashed potatoes. Add salt, pepper, and potato starch and mix well to combine.

Use your hands to form golfball-sized balls, then set on a clean workspace and flatten into patties.

Place flour in a shallow bowl.

Add a few inches of oil to a deep skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil is warmed, dredge the potato cakes in the flour and place in the heated oil. Cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side or until they are light golden brown. Set on a paper towel-lined platter and season with additional salt and pepper to suit your taste.

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