Jews and garlic have had a long tempestuous relationship with garlic. The Talmud suggests that men eat garlic on the Sabbath because Friday was the night devoted to conjugal love. This testimonial from Ezra the Scribe: “garlic promotes love and arouses desire, “pretty much says it all but garlic was also used as a means to disgrace Jews with the term “foetor Judaicus,” the “Jewish stench” of degeneracy and garlic used as an anti-Semitic stereotype.
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family. Dating back over 6000 years, garlic has been a staple in Asia and the Mediterranean. Used for a variety of medical issues including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and treating infections and cancer, garlic is a useful component in medical laboratories as well as kitchens.
Most garlic used in home and professional kitchens is the familiar dried garlic. The phytochemicals produced when the garlic is “bruised” (chewed, chopped and crushed) are the plants natural defenses which are responsible for the “hot” pungent taste and strong lingering smell.
Spring garlic is my favorite garlic. Tender green shoots and a bulb with tiny cloves that do not require peeling and a very soft and sweet garlic flavor makes spring garlic a standard in my spring arsenal.
This pesto is sweet and very herbaceous and not overwhelmingly garlicky. It is perfect schmeared on bread, dolloped on grilled steaks or drizzled on fish and pasta. Make a large batch and freeze some for later this summer. Spring Garlic pesto will keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Spring Garlic Pesto
Yields ½ cup
- 1/4 pound spring garlic, beard and tips removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ½ cup basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnuts, toasted
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Rough chop the garlic (use the green shoots and bulb) and basil. Place a large pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium high heat. Quickly sear the garlic and basil leaves for about 10 seconds. (this will help keep the color bright green)
- In a blender, mix the basil, spring garlic, and olive oil. Add the walnuts, salt, and pepper, and continue to blend until smooth.
Garlicky Potato Salad
- 1 pound fingerling or favorite potatoes
- ¼ cup Spring Garlic Pesto
- ¼ cup homemade or purchased mayonnaise
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 small fennel bulb, shaved on a mandolin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1. Bring a medium saucepan, filled halfway with water and potatoes, to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and cool completely.
- 2. Whisk the pesto and mayonnaise together. Toss the potatoes, onions and carrots together,
- 3. Adjust seasoning to taste