How to get the most out of the fall garlic harvest

Roasted garlic

This article was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

When choosing fresh garlic, look for firm heads, tight papery skin, and large cloves. Much of the garlic sold in Canada is imported, but it’s worth seeking locally grown bulbs at fall farmers’ markets. It’s fresher, and you’ll be supporting local agriculture—a good thing. You can always find regular bulb garlic in supermarkets, but solo garlic, elephant garlic, and scapes are three less common types to look for.

Here are four ways to integrate the allium into your fall meals:

Roasted garlic
Peel away any loose papery skin from a bulb; slice across the pointy end to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 400°F (200°C) or tuck in a corner of the barbecue for 35–40 minutes, until garlic is golden and squishy and squeezes out of the skin. Then:

• Add to mashed potatoes, with butter or olive oil and a splash or three of cream.

• Spread toasted French bread with a little goat cheese and top with a roasted garlic clove.

• Use roasted garlic instead of raw for a mellower, less pungent hummus.

• Mix a few cloves into store-bought or homemade mayonnaise for a fabulous sandwich spread.

• Whisk a few smushed cloves into salad dressing.

Braised lamb shanks with garlic
A guest-worthy main for a crisp fall evening. It practically cooks itself, letting you do more important things, like have a nap. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Rub 4 lamb shanks with about 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a heavy Dutch oven or casserole and roast, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, turning the shanks to brown on all sides. Reduce temperature to 325°F (160°C). Scatter 15–20 whole, peeled garlic cloves and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary over lamb. Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) white wine. Cover pot and cook, undisturbed, for about 2 hours—the lamb should be fork-tender. Remove lid and increase heat to 375°F (190°C) for 10 minutes or so, until sauce thickens slightly and lamb browns a little more. (If the lid is loose, the sauce may already have reduced; add more wine if needed.) Makes 4 servings.

Salsa verde
Your new favourite condiment for eggs, steak, poached salmon, and more. With the food processor running, drop in 2 garlic cloves to chop finely. Stop the machine and add 2 cups (500 ml) flat-leaf parsley leaves, 2 anchovy fillets, 1 tbsp (15 ml) capers, 1 tbsp (15 ml)  red wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil. Process until nearly smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh bread crumbs. Process until smooth. Use it everywhere.

Pasta aglio e olio
Pasta. Garlic. Olive oil. Cheese. What more do you need? Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté 8–10 chopped garlic cloves until barely golden. Stir in 1/2 tsp (2 ml) hot pepper flakes and remove from heat. Cook spaghetti or linguine (1 lb/500 g for 4–5 servings). Before draining, scoop out 1 /2 cups (375 ml) of pasta water. Return oil-garlic skillet to the heat and add pasta water. Cook for 5 minutes. Add drained pasta, 1 cup (250 ml) grated Parmesan, and a good handful of chopped parsley. Toss to heat through.