There’s nothing like fresh garlic. But sometimes – especially for soups and stews – it’s convenient and inexpensive to use the peeled cloves you can buy in a bulk package at places like Costco. I usually split the three-pound bag with my friend Emily, and I keep it stored in olive oil.
About 25 years ago I was part of the craze of making decorative bottles of flavored oils by putting garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary and peppercorns in olive oil. They looked lovely setting on the countertop, and the oil was yummy. As far as I know nobody died from eating it; but I gave a lot of them to people as gifts before I found out that garlic in olive oil at room temperature creates a perfect breeding ground for botulism. (Ooops.)
Garlic cloves can be safely stored in olive oil if you keep it cold and don’t make more than you can use in about a month. And there are hundreds of tasty things to do with it! (You can also freeze it for several months if you make more than one jar.)
Place the garlic cloves into a small dry jar, and cover them with olive oil. Be sure to cover the cloves completely. When the olive oil gets cold it will congeal or solidify, but it will melt almost immediately when you spoon it out to use. (Use a dry spoon to scoop out cloves)
Garlic oil is wonderful to brush on shrimp or asparagus or peppers for grilling, and the oil-soaked cloves of garlic go easily through a garlic press. Or you can use them whole.
Here is a delicious recipe John and I made last night on the spur of the moment. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it was delicious!
— Pasta with sun dried tomatoes and fresh veggies
½ lb pasta
8-10 mushrooms, sliced
6 fat green onions, chopped
About a cup of chopped fresh broccoli
1-2 tablespoon garlic oil
2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes with olive oil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking you have 15-20 minutes to slice the mushrooms, onion and broccoli and sauté them in the garlic oil.
Just before you remove it from the heat, stir in the sun dried tomatoes.
Drain the pasta when it’s aldente.
Stir in the sautéed veggies.
Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.