Vampires may hate it, but humans can’t seem to get enough of garlic. We’ve been using the smelly stuff in cooking and to cure illness for roughly 5,000 years — garlic bulbs have even been discovered entombed in the Egyptian pyramids.
As it turns out, our ancestors may have had the right idea about garlic. Not only can adding a clove or two of this pungent bulb (which is related to leeks and onions) bring much-needed flavor to any number of dishes, but it may also have some health benefits. There’s evidence that garlic helps prevent the common cold (when taken as a supplement) and it may even reduce the risk of certain cancers. One study found that people who frequently ate raw or cooked garlic lowered their risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30%.
Whether you’re trying to fight off the sniffles or just love the taste, here are five recipes where garlic takes center stage. We think they’re worth the bad breath.
1. Lebanese Garlic Sauce
You only need four ingredients (including an entire cup of garlic) to make this simple Lebanese garlic sauce, also known as toum, but once you try it, it’s likely to turn into a kitchen staple. The versatile sauce can be served with roasted meats and vegetable, as a dipping sauce for pita, French fries, or chips, or slathered on bread. It also works as a base for salad dressings and marinades. This recipe from KCET makes about 4 cups and will keep for several weeks in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.
- 1 cup peeled garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups neutral oil such as grape seed or sunflower
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Directions: Peel the garlic cloves and check them for any green sprouts. If you find any, remove and discard (they will make the sauce taste bitter). Place the garlic in the food processor and process until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
With the food processor still running, pour in ½ cup of the oil in a slow, steady stream. Gradually add ½ tablespoon of the lemon juice using the same technique. Repeat the process until you’ve added all the oil and lemon juice. If the mixture separates while you’re adding the lemon juice or oil, pause and let the processor run until the ingredients come together. Adding all the ingredients should take about 10 minutes and you’ll have a sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise at the end.
Transfer sauce to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.