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A Bright Bulb

A Bright Bulb
April 2009
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.”