Saturday, March 13, 2010

I heart garlic!

Recently, my old stomping ground of Delray Beach, Florida held its annual Garlic Fest.  My husband and I were disappointed when we realized it would be one of the first years we wouldn't make it to the festival centered around our favorite little flavorful bulb.  You see, garlic and I are tight.  I love its smell (why doesn't Febreze bottle such a scent?), its cute little packaging, and the fact that it fits in the palm of a hand but can be found with names like: elephant garlic.  I also find that it is one of the most flexible ingredients out there.  It's perfect in everything from eggs to salsa, meat rubs to Bloody Mary's (or is it Bloodies Mary?).  You can roast it and spread the sweet result onto fresh bread, or mix it with oil and spices for a dip or glaze on roasted vegetables.  It complements sweet flavors and rocks with savory.  It's a sad day in our household if there isn't at least one clove of garlic on hand.  A little research will show you that along with its flavorful punch, it also packs plenty of medicinal benefits, sometimes being referred to as a "wonder drug."  It has been linked with preventing the common cold and flu (not sure if that includes swine flu or not; I venture to guess NOT because I ended up with it a couple months ago) and was historically used in helping to prevent the Black Death.  And let us not forget its protection from vampires. Even Nostradamus was a fan of garlic... and didn't that guy know everything?  One of my favorite little tid bits about garlic is that it has a "powerful antioxidant effect... [which] can help to protect the body against damaging "free radicals.""  Living in Washington, D.C., any help I can get to prevent damage from free radicals is appreciated. 

While I toss this little herb into almost everything I make, one of our favorite recipes uses garlic in both its whole and chopped state.  The flavors result in both earthy and sweet flavors and the combination with swiss chard and chic peas make this side dish a total winner.  The only caveat for serving this is that everyone needs to eat it.  Otherwise, those that don't eat it will be wincing from the garlicky breath of their partners.  The last time we had this at dinner I tried to talk to my cat and she snapped her head back so fast and shut her eyes as though in pain before running away from me at top speed. So I guess it should be stated that breath mints or a shot of Listerine would be appreciated if serving this at a dinner party.  However, it's a fantastic side for steak or chicken and it's a great departure from the usual potatoes and squash that find their way onto dinner tables during the cold months.  For those of you that only know the chic pea to be served in cold salads, this is a great new way to try them.  I had no idea they could be served warm before this recipe!  Most recently we served this along side chicken topped with goat cheese, cranberries and caramelized onion with parmesan garlic toast.  It was a match made in kitchen heaven. 

This recipe was featured in the January, 2008 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. 

serves: 4

Garbanzo Beans
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (about 3 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large shallots
  • 3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 3 small bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard, center stems cut out, leaves coarsely torn
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
Garbanzo beans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 5 ingredients in 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour oil over; cover dish with foil. Roast until garlic is tender, about 45 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, bay leaves, and shallots. Cover; cook until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Uncover; add half of chard. Toss until chard wilts and volume is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add remaining chard. Toss until chard wilts, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Cover and cook until chard is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season chard with salt and pepper. Transfer chard mixture to large sieve set over bowl and drain. DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Drain garbanzos and reserve oil; discard bay leaves. Combine garbanzos and chard in large skillet. Add 2 tablespoons oil reserved from garbanzos. Toss over medium heat until warmed through, moistening with more oil by tablespoonfuls if needed, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


jpowers said...

Sounds yummy. This one seems easy enough for even me to try.

Liren - Kitchen Worthy said...

My goodness, I heart garlic, too! I always find myself adding more garlic than a recipe calls for :). Also didn't know that Delray Beach has a Garlic Festival! Here in the Bay Area, Gilroy is known as the garlic capital of the world. Drive through the city and you can smell itinerary the air. They also have a huge garlic festival, and I have yet to go (shame on me!). Maybe this year...

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