Quick Bite: A Bright Bulb
Lana’s John Ondo shares trade secrets on working with garlic, the flavorful darling of Mediterranean fare
As chef of Mediterranean bistro Lana, John Ondo knows garlic. “Because if you’re not using it, your meal’s not Mediterranean,” he says. Admitting that the bulb can be a little tricky, he was happy to send some advice from the kitchen.
How to Buy:
For starters, “I don’t care what Rachael Ray says, don’t ever buy the precut stuff in a jar,” he says. Instead, head for the grocery store produce section, “and look for plump bulbs with skin that is dry, without any wrinkling or sprouts.”
How to Peel:
“Place the garlic clove on your cutting board and press down firmly with the flat side of a chef’s knife; after that, the peel will come off easily.”
How to Cut:
“Don’t cut the garlic too fine, as it will permeate the whole dish,” instructs Ondo. “For a marinade, slice it paper-thin crosswise. For tomato sauces and soups, rough chop garlic cloves by simply crushing them with a knife.”
How to Roast:
To roast a bulb of garlic, first remove and discard any loose skin. “Then, cut about a quarter-inch off the top of the bulb and throw this away. Coat the exposed top of the bulb generously with olive oil and wrap it in foil.” Place in a preheated 400°F oven for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. “This will keep for four or five days.”
2 cups peeled garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
Place garlic in a small saucepan and cover with oil. Warm over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the cloves are soft and tan in color. Strain, saving the oil. (Oil will keep for up to two months in the refrigerator; use sparingly in marinades and salad dressings.) Purée the garlic in a food processor or blender and pass through a fine sieve to separate the root ends to create a subtle purée, which can keep up to a week if covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen in small batches to use as needed in soups, sauces, and vinaigrettes.
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs. garlic confit (click here for recipe)
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. fresh chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Blend vinegar, mustard, and garlic confit in a food processor or blender. Slowly drizzle in the oil, then add parsley, salt, and pepper.