Sunday, March 9, 2008

Garlic And Herb Aioli

In my neck of the woods the organic garlic available at our local Co-op right now is the kind that stores over the winter. The new spring garlic won't be available for several months yet and the beautiful dried heads a month or more after that. Being a garlic lover, I make do with this older, very pungent garlic that gets a bit funky this time of year. Just such a head was in my garlic basket yesterday, needing attention of some kind; either cook it right then or heave it into the compost bin within the week. Ugh. So far this isn't a very appetizing post is it?

Hang on, I'm getting to the good part. I separated the head into cloves, cut off the tops and put them into my little garlic roaster with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Roasting them, covered, in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes yielded a different beast entirely - beautifully carmelized, sweet, nutty, delicious, soft garlic cloves. A sublime transformation if ever there was one.

Garlic, of course, is one of the world's healthiest foods. Packed with nutrients, when eaten regularly garlic is a proven cholesterol buster, antioxident, anti-inflamation, heart healthy food. There's a little blurb in the current issue of Gourmet Magazine that says if you crush garlic and allow it to sit for 15 minutes prior to cooking, compounds form that help relax blood vessels. What a great tip. And there's always the vampire thing...

After roasting, peel those puppies and mash them with fresh herbs and a little Kosher salt.

To the mash, add Vegenaise, Meyer lemon juice, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix well to blend it all into an aioli. There you are, the healthful values of garlic and fresh herbs, a no cholesterol mayonnaise, and the delights of Meyer lemon juice.

For a very healthy low carb lunch, take a home grown lettuce leaf or two (I used romaine, lolla rossa and arugula from my garden), lay down some shredded lean pork tenderloin, place a dollop of your aioli on top, roll everything up in the lettuce and eat. Swoon. Repeat.

This is my offering to Weekend Herb Blogging, an event begun by my friend Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. WHB is being hosted this week by Anna of Morsels and Musings. Click here to read about this long-running, very popular event and then check out the roundup at Anna's blog in the next few days.

Garlic and Herb Aioli
Christine's original recipe
1 head garlic, separated into cloves, tips cut off
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoon Vegenaise
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the garlic cloves with the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil into a small oven proof container that has a lid (aluminum foil will do also). Roast the garlic in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the garlic is a very soft golden brown with bits of carmelization. Remove from the oven and allow to cool with the lid off.
Peel the garlic cloves and place on a plate.
Chop the herbs very finely and put over the garlic.
Sprinkle on a pinch of coarse Kosher salt. This will help with the mashing.
Using a fork, mash the garlic and herbs together until they form a paste. Don't worry about bits of carmelized garlic that won't mash. This is rustic aioli.
Put the mash into a bowl, add the Vegenaise and lemon juice and stir to blend.
Season to taste with fine Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cooks' Notes:
This makes about 1/3 cup of aioli. Use it on fish, chicken, pork or as a vegetable dip. It should keep in the fridge for 1 week.
Follow Your Heart Vegenaise can be found in many health food or organically inclined stores in the refrigerator section, usually by the tofu. It can also be ordered online.

Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved