Garlic is one of the most popular flavours in food yet we hardly give it a thought. In addition to tasting good, it has several health benefits. Garlic is rich in antioxidants and can boost the immune system. Recent studies indicate it plays a role in preventing heart disease and cancer and minimizing common cold symptoms. Garlic also kills roundworms, which are the most common intestinal parasite.
Most of our grocery store garlic comes from China or California. By the time we see it on the shelf, it could be six or more months old so it’s great to see local garlic farms popping up across the country.
I visited Tom Wilson and June Evans at their 20 acre Meadowlark Farm in Elbow, Sask. They have carefully researched several heirloom varieties and are adept at recognizing cultivars.
For Evans, who grew up on the family farm near Kenaston, Sask., it was like coming home. Wilson grew up in West Virginia and his music took him to many places.
Farming was not their first plan but after cooking with fresh garlic purchased from the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, Wilson had an idea to save a bulb and plant it. Five years later, they had their first commercial crop with 16,000 plants featuring 20 hard neck and two soft neck varieties.
This year, they have one quarter acre under cultivation with garlic and another one quarter acre with heirloom vegetables.
A hailstorm early in the season shredded and flattened their garlic crop as it was just coming out of the soil, then non-stop rain and cool weather set the crop back.
The couple has been harvesting green garlic and will harvest the full-grown bulbs in late August.
- 1 3/4 c. warm water 435 mL
- 1/4 c. olive oil 60 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1 tbsp. sugar 15 mL
- 1 1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast 17 mL
- 5 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose or bread flour 1.375 L
- 3 tbsp. olive oil 45 mL
- 3 tbsp. butter 45 mL
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 c. Italian parsley, finely chopped 60 mL
- sea salt, to taste
Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let sit until yeast becomes foamy, about 15 minutes. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Too much flour will produce a tough and hard roll. Cover and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume.
This may take one to three hours.
At this point, the dough may be refrigerated for several days or made into knots immediately.
To make the knots, you will need a pizza cutter or sharp knife, oil, rolling pin, cutting board and several sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two balls. One at a time, roll the ball of dough out to a rectangle approximately five x 16 inches (13 cm x 40 cm) and 1/2 inch (3 cm) thick on a lightly floured board. If the dough is difficult to roll and shrinks back, let it rest for five minutes and try again. Slice into half inch x five inch (3 cm x 13 cm) strips.
When the strips are all cut, roll each into a fat pencil shape and tie in a loose knot. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches (7 cm) apart. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Make the garlic coating. Warm olive oil, butter and garlic in a small saucepan. If you prefer a more mellow garlic flavour, let it simmer for a minute or two until slightly golden. Remove from heat and add parsley. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. After removing knots from oven and while still warm, brush with garlic coating or place knots in a large bowl and toss with garlic coating. Season with sea salt. It’s best served warm.
Meadowlark farm potato soup with green garlic and sorrel
Green garlic, also called spring garlic, is one of the first vegetables to show up at farmers markets. The immature garlic bulbs and edible green stalks have an onion flavour that is nice fresh or cooked. Substitute green garlic in recipes for onions, scallions or leeks.
Slice and use in potato salad or mince and stir into salad dressings. Toss some in a stir-fry, on a pizza or in soups. The light garlic flavour enhances without overpowering.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
- 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
- 2 medium potatoes, diced 1/2 inch
- 3 c. homemade chicken stock
- 1 c. sorrel leaves 250 mL
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- fresh dill and French tarragon, to taste
- splash of whole cream
- 2 tbsp. finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese 30 mL
Add olive oil and butter to a medium sized pot. Heat until hot but not smoking and add chopped spring garlic and onions. Saute for a couple of minutes until aromatic. Add potatoes, chicken stock and cook until potatoes are tender. Lower heat and add chopped sorrel leaves, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dill, French tarragon and a splash of cream. Bring back to a simmer and turn off the heat.
Puree half of the mixture and then return it to the pot. Stir in parmigiano-reggiano cheese and serve.
The scape grows like a curly shoot alongside the leaves and has a swelled node that holds the bulbils, which are miniature bulbs that can be planted to reproduce the plant. Most varieties require trimming the scapes from the plant so the energy goes to developing the bulb. Toss this pesto with cooked pasta for an easy delicious meal.
- 10 large garlic scapes
- 1/3 c. unsalted pistachios or pine nuts 80 mL
- 1/3 c. finely grated parmigiano-reggiano 80 mL
- kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil 80 mL
Puree the garlic scapes, pistachios and parmesan in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the opening. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. The pesto keeps in the fridge, covered, for one week or frozen for a month. – Source: Epicurious.
Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at http://allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: [email protected].