Last fall, as my CSA was winding down, one of the farmers, Mark, gave me a LOT of garlic cloves from his planting stash. They were 2 inch cloves, huge by any standard, and I was loathe to relegate them to the dirt for replanting, when all I wanted to do was devour them.
I took several to the garden I tend at my synagogue, and planted the rest at home. After planting each bulb at a depth of about 2 inches, I covered them with soil, watered them, and at home I mulched them with about 4 inches of straw. The cloves grew slowly over the winter, and this spring I had 45 gorgeous garlic plants growing at home.
By Passover, I was eager to try them out, but knew they weren’t ready yet. To whet my taste buds, I sautéed a few young garlic leaves with Swiss chard from the synagogue garden as part of a matzo brei scramble and am still salivating over it. At the end of May, I just couldn’t wait, I pulled up the littlest garlic plants at my house and realized that they still needed more time. That harvest has proved delicious when roasted and spread on homemade pizza dough, and also has me wanting more.
Friday morning, I harvested the dozen garlic plants at my synagogue, along with several heads of green and red cabbage, four cucumbers, and two chiogga beets (which I peeled, sliced thin, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted to perfection for lunch). The staff and volunteers who were present shared in the harvest, and I took home two heads of garlic, leaving several for anyone who wanted them. I couldn’t help but grin and foist another large head to the synagogue administrator, who said she’s been using garlic for her pickles.
The pungency of the garlic was overpowering in my car on the drive home, but gave me hope that it would taste incredible when cured and ready for consumption. Once home, I braided the leaves and stalks of the two plants and hung them from my one of my carport’s iron support beams to dry out the bulbs. Before the garlic dries out, it is difficult to separate from the rest of the cloves and harder to peel. The taste of the garlic is also more potent when given a proper two weeks of well-ventilated drying time.
By Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t wait any longer. I grabbed one of the heads of garlic, twisted it from its still-green stalk, and pried off one glorious clove to add to a tomato sauce I was making for linguine and tofu “meat” balls (I also added fresh onion and garlic from my garden, cumin, turmeric and thyme to the recipe). The tomato sauce was a blender combination of tomatoes I canned last fall, shul-grown garlic, home-grown onions, a variety of herbs, whizzed up and simmered with chopped carrots, a whole dehydrated cayenne pepper, and sautéed portabella mushrooms until it was thick and perfect.
Whether you like your garlic roasted, simmered, sautéed or raw, enjoy it. It’s good for you!
Ingredients: 1 head of garlic and 1 teaspoon olive oil
Set oven to 400°F.
Cut a square of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the head of garlic, with a little bit of room.
Cut off the root end of the garlic, removing as little garlic flesh as possible, and place cut side down on the aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic and gather the foil to close at the top of the head of garlic (the pointy end). Place foil pouch in the oven, directly on an oven rack and roast for 20-30 minutes, until the garlic cloves are mushy.
Once removed from the oven, let cool and squeeze out the roasted garlic onto your favorite edible surface, or serve cut side up with crackers, bread or crudités. Enjoy!
Miriam Leibowitz is a vegetarian, avid gardener, long-time home cook and JOIN for Justice alumna. When she’s not teaching, Miriam is working to bring affordable, healthy food access to Nashville’s food desert neighborhoods and rebuilding relationships between the African-American and Jewish communities.