Yesterday I slept most of the day. I don't know what was wrong with me. We did, however, end up going to the Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday. You get into the museum for free, there's music, and if you stay late enough, which I obviously didn't, there's dancing. As you can imagine, when I got home I was hungry, but in no mood to cook. I didn't want to do take-out again (the whole anxiety-provoking "how will I eat all of this lettuce" thing). So I went with simple: garlic bread with fresh garlic and a salad. The question you're probably asking yourself right now is: Why is she writing a post about how to make salad and garlic bread? Because this is really a post about fresh garlic--the kind with the green part still attached--and how to use it.
Did you ever notice that the onions and garlic you pick up at the farmer's market in the spring--the ones with the green stalks attached--are different than the onions you pick up at the store? They have a different texture. They're crisp, almost apple like. Their flavor is a bit milder. I can pop a slice from a clove of this garlic in my mouth without any ill-effects. The onions and garlic you pick up at the grocery store or at the market during the fall and winter have been dried, or cured, to help preserve them for the colder months. The flavor gets more intense, the skin a bit more papery.
You can cure your own garlic. The directions are here, but you can also eat it just as it is. First, you need to remove the green stem. If you have a hard-stalked variety, you'll need to cut the stalk off with a serrated knife. Next, cut the garlic in half along where it looks like the cloves will break apart. Next, remove the center stalk. Break or cut the cloves apart. Remove the skins.
Normally if you're making something with garlic, you crush it with the broad side of a knife. That doesn't work with fresh garlic. It just slips out from under you knife (trust me, I tried). You have to just chop without crushing. Although I'm sure methods like chopping and then crushing--making a paste with garlic and salt--will work just fine.
Now for dinner...
Here's the salad: Lettuce, shredded raw beets, oil cured black olives and a bit of crumbled goat cheese with a homemade red wine vinaigrette.
And the garlic bread:
Just a note...we have a little disagreement in our apartment about the proper way to make garlic bread. I am in favor of the "double bake"--bake, then broil to get a browned, crispy top. D is in favor of soft garlic bread. If you, for whatever reason, prefer soft garlic bread, reduce the baking time. The other way to do this is to wrap the bread in foil with the buttered sides touching (my mom's preferred method). I am in favor of fresh herbs on top of garlic bread, D is in favor of Parmesan cheese. So, I usually do one side of the loaf with cheese and the other without.
Fresh Garlic Bread
1 small head fresh garlic, chopped (if you're using cured garlic, reduce this amount a bit)
3 T butter, melted
1/2 loaf of Italian bread
chopped parsley or other fresh herbs--basil, chives, and oregano are all good choices
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the bread in half, so you have two flat pieces of bread (see picture). Add the chopped garlic, salt and pepper to the butter. Brush over the top of the bread with a pastry brush, being sure the cover completely.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until starting to get crispy. If you're using the Parmesan, add it in the final 2-3 minutes of baking.
Turn on the broiler. Heat the bread under the broiler until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the top with parsley (or other fresh herb).