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Gar­lic is a rock-star in­gre­di­ent in most cuisines; its ef­fect rang­ing from punchy and keen to but­tery sweet de­pend­ing on how you cook it. Try it crisp and caramelised with broc­coli pasta, or as a mel­low con­fit in a potato frit­tata

The Guardian - Cook - - THE MODERN COOK - Anna Jones

Gar­lic is a good friend in the kitchen. It crosses con­ti­nents like few other in­gre­di­ents. When I was grow­ing up, a guy we imag­i­na­tively named the Onion Man used to come to our door sell­ing al­li­ums from Brit­tany (I’ve since learned these onion sellers are known as Onion John­nies). He rode a bike, and the han­dle­bars were heavy with plaits of pur­ple gar­lic, rose-pink onions and shal­lots. The fresh­ness of his wares was un­matched. Some years ago, his bike stopped wheel­ing the streets where I grew up. But to our de­light a few months ago he made a reap­pear­ance: his name is Pas­cal and six strings of gar­lic bulbs now hang in my kitchen.

I han­dle gar­lic with a bit of care. It is very rare that I use it raw and if I do it will be just a sniff of it, as I find the flavour shouts down ev­ery­thing else. But I love the but­tery sweet­ness you get when you cook with gar­lic: roast­ing the cloves whole, mak­ing a gen­tle con­fit, or quick-fry­ing slices in a lit­tle oil. Each method brings out notes that are suited to dif­fer­ent dishes. The trick is to find the sweet spot, when the edges catch and it be­gins to brown and caramelise, be­com­ing pleas­ingly chewy. Leave it any longer, and it be­gins to char and it will take on a burnt flavour that over­whelms ev­ery­thing.

Gar­lic isn’t just the straight-up, white-pa­pery-wrapped bulbs. There is black gar­lic, rich and sweet with mo­lasses; the enor­mous cloves of ele­phant gar­lic; sub­tle smoked gar­lic; fresh and pun­gent wet gar­lic; pretty

pink gar­lic; and, right now, wild gar­lic. The long, pointed leaves of the lat­ter are fill­ing lanes, parks and hedgerows, as well as green­gro­cers. If you have some on hand you could suc­cess­fully use them in the recipes be­low.

Crispy gar­lic, broc­coli and blood or­ange pap­pardelle

This is a pretty sim­ple but im­pres­sive pasta with a pretty, pink-tinged sauce, mak­ing the most of the last of the blood or­anges. If you can’t get any, a stan­dard or­ange would work too, as would a lemon – although per­haps you would only need half the juice. I use wholewheat pap­pardelle here as I like it next to the broc­coli and or­ange, but any wide noo­dle pasta will do.

Serves 4

4 gar­lic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced 2 tbsp olive oil 400g pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli 150g creme fraiche Zest and juice of 1 blood or­ange Salt and pep­per 500g pap­pardelle A lit­tle parme­san for grat­ing (I use a veg­e­tar­ian one)

1 First fry your gar­lic. Line a plate with some kitchen pa­per. Heat the olive oil in a fry­ing pan, then add the gar­lic and cook un­til the edges be­gin to brown and crisp. When done, scoop out the crisp gar­lic with a slot­ted spoon and drain on kitchen pa­per, keep­ing the left­over oil for later.

2 Next trim your broc­coli, nick­ing off any dry ends and chop­ping any larger pieces in half down the

The trick is to find the sweet spot, when the edges catch and it be­gins to caramelise, be­com­ing pleas­ingly chewy

mid­dle so they are all the same size.

3 Put two pans of salted wa­ter on to boil – one large one for your pasta and a smaller one for the broc­coli.

4 Once the gar­lic oil has cooled, pour it into a jug and add the creme fraiche, and the or­ange juice and zest. Sea­son well with salt and pep­per.

5 Next add your pasta to the larger of the pans and cook ac­cord­ing to the packet in­struc­tions. About 4 min­utes be­fore the pasta is ready, add the broc­coli to the other pan. Cook the broc­coli un­til it has lost its raw­ness but is still perky and deep green.

6 Drain the broc­coli and leave in a colan­der to steam while you drain the pasta, re­serv­ing a mug­ful of the starchy pasta wa­ter for the sauce.

7 Put the pasta back into the pan, add the broc­coli and the or­ange cre­me­fraiche oil and mix well, adding a lit­tle pasta wa­ter at a time and mix­ing un­til you have a sub­tle pink, creamy sauce that clings to your pasta.

8 Serve in the mid­dle of the ta­ble in a big bowl with parme­san for grat­ing over.

Mel­low con­fit gar­lic frit­tata with gre­mo­lata

Don’t be shocked by the amount of gar­lic used here: it makes more than you will need but keeps re­ally well in the fridge for months, and the mel­low oil is a quick ad­di­tion to pas­tas, piz­zas and dress­ings. I use a ca­st­iron pan – I find it pro­vides a nice even heat – but any heavy-based fry­ing pan works. If you have wild gar­lic to hand, re­place the spinach with a cou­ple of hand­fuls of the leaves for a punchier but still mel­low gar­lic flavour, wilt­ing them as you would the spinach.

Serves 4

3 gar­lic bulbs 750ml olive oil 500g new pota­toes 200g baby spinach 6 eggs, lightly beaten A large bunch of pars­ley Red chilli Zest of 1 lemon A pinch of salt

1 To make the con­fit gar­lic, sep­a­rate 3 bulbs of gar­lic into in­di­vid­ual cloves, leav­ing the pa­pery skin on. Put them in a small pan with the oil over the low­est heat pos­si­ble. Al­low them to cook very gen­tly for an hour, mak­ing sure the oil doesn’t get too hot. If you need to, you can turn the heat off ev­ery now and again.

2 Af­ter an hour take the pan off the heat, al­low to cool com­pletely and pour the con­tents into a clean jar.

3 To make the frit­tata, pre­heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Add the pota­toes to an oven­proof pan with 2 tbsp of the gar­lic oil, turn­ing the pota­toes over so they are all glis­ten­ing. Roast in the oven for 30-40 min­utes.

4 Mean­while, peel 10 cloves of con­fit gar­lic from their pa­pery skins.

5 Once the pota­toes are golden, re­move them from the oven (with­out switch­ing it off ) and give them a good shake, loos­en­ing any that are stuck to the bot­tom of the pan.

6 Put the pan on a medium heat (use an oven glove or folded tea towel to hold the han­dle – it will be very hot), and add the spinach, toss­ing it un­til it has be­gun to soften. Scat­ter over the gar­lic cloves.

7 Add the beaten egg, pour­ing it evenly around the pan and stir­ring gen­tly to coat the spinach and pota­toes.

8 Cook over a medium heat for a cou­ple of min­utes then trans­fer to the oven to cook un­til the frit­tata has just set, but still has a lit­tle wob­ble.

9 In the mean­time, quickly make the gre­mo­lata. Finely chop the pars­ley and red chilli to­gether, add the lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.

10 Serve the frit­tata in generous slices with the gre­mo­lata for spoon­ing over.

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