Garlic is a very popular and often essential ingrediant in Spanish cooking, so for all our Costa del Sol readers we thought this article on garlic and its medicinal properties, along with some simple sauce recipes to easily include some extra garlic into your diet, would be of particular interest….
At various times throughout history, the humble garlic bulb has been deemed to have powers to cure almost every ailments under the sun, from the common cold to warts, dandruff and premature greying.
The ancient Egyptians fed it to pyramid-building slaves as a tonic. And, of course, everyone knows that a bulb or two strung around the neck will ward off vampires!!!
Many of the claims made for garlic cannot, or at least have not, been substantiated clinically.
What has been established is that garlic has antiseptic properties (its juice was used on trench wounds during World War I) and contains allicin, a natural antibiotic.
It is the allicin which gives garlic its strong odour.
There is also considerable evidence that garlic contains sulfur complexes which help lower blood cholesterol, though there are probably easier ways to go about this, simply by lowering the amount of fat in the diet.
In some parts of the world garlic is consumed as a means of controlling roundworm and hookworm and thousands of people take garlic supplements in winter, in the belief that the practice helps keep colds at bay.
Indeed, the health-food industry has seemingly produced a garlic supplement for every occasion, from odourless capsules to freeze-dried tablets and gelatin-coated globules of garlic oil.
Many people need no stronger inducement to eat garlic than the taste itself.
Its pungent and penetrating taste and odour make it one of the most distinctive and popular flavourings for dishes originating as far afield as China, Egypt, southern France, Italy and of couse Spain.
Garlic has been grown for at least 3000 years in Asia, but it is in Italian and Mediterranean cooking that garlic has reached its modern heights of popularity.
There are those who believe that the more garlic you eat, the less it seems to linger on the breath. Perhaps it is just that the garlic eater notices it less.
Other people believe that garlic cloves swallowed whole will not affect the breath.
Yet others believe that if you munch on some fresh parsley or chew a few fennel seeds after a garlic-flavoured meal you will escape the lingering scent.
Perhaps the best advice is simply to ignore the after-effects. After all, garlic might be pungent, but few people find it truly unpleasant. No-one makes such a fuss about people walking around with beer on their breath.
Garlic has a multitude of uses in the kitchen, below you can find some great, simple sauce recipes which will allow you to easily include some extra garlic into your diet….
Make up a bottle of this garlic vinegar and store in the cupboard, for use in salad dressings.
● 3 large or 6 small cloves of garlic (when you are shopping, choose firm bulbs, with unbroken skin)
● 2 cups white wine vinegar
Peel and chop garlic, then pound until quite crushed.
Heat 1 cup of vinegar until boiling and pour on crushed garlic. Leave to cool. Mix in the rest of the vinegar and pour the mixture into a bottle. Leave for two weeks, shaking every couple of days, then strain and discard the garlic pieces. Re-bottle.
Yogurt and Garlic Sauce
Put a bit of zing into plain, steamed vegetables, with this yogurt and garlic sauce. Try a combination of carrot straws, broccoli, cauliflower and snow peas.
● 1 cup thick, plain yogurt
● 100ml cream
● 3 cloves garlic, minced
● ½ tsp smooth, hot mustard
● Cracked black pepper
Blend yogurt and cream, then add garlic, mustard and pepper to taste. Pour over hot steamed vegetables.
Garlic and olive oil spaghetti sauce.
True garlic purists will like this very traditional recipe for garlic and olive oil spaghetti sauce.
● ¼ cup virgin olive oil
● 3 cloves minced garlic
● 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
● ¼ tsp dried chilli, finely crushed
● Salt to taste
Saute garlic in olive oil over a medium heat until garlic changes colour. Add parsley, chilli and a sprinkle of salt. Stir for a moment, then remove from heat. Toss into drained, freshly cooked spaghetti and serve.
Garlic and mustard sauce.
Another garlic sauce, perfect to serve with potato chips or thick slices of pan fried potatoes, again combines the flavours of garlic and mustard.
● 4 tbsp olive oil
● 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
● 2 cloves garlic, minced
● 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
Put all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined and smooth. Spoon over chips or potatoes.