kosher kitchen

Here’s to the lovers of garlic among us


It is July again, so once again we have come to our vacation-favorite Italian restaurant — the one that makes amazing little garlic knots, crispy on the outside and fluffy soft on the inside, the kind of bread that pulls apart in yeasty-soft layers as the steam rises between them. The baker takes the knots, hot from the oven, breaks them into rectangles and places them in a parchment-lined basket. The bread itself is heavenly, but then comes the magic. He takes a ladle-full of heaven — large amounts of minced garlic that have bathed for hours in a bath of olive oil and sea salt — and floods the knots. The perfume fills the restaurant. Lastly, he sprinkles on a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan and hands the basket to the waiter who rushes it to the table. Garlic heaven in a basket. 

To some people, garlic is truly “the stinking rose,” and I have met people who vehemently dislike its pungency and after effects. To others, garlic is the million-dollar perfume and taste that triggers effusive passion; a dish without garlic may not be worth eating. My toddler grandson loves my garlic bread and anything else with garlic!

Garlic is an ancient food cited in the Bible, most specifically in the Book of Ezra. At one point, returning soldiers are urged to eat lots of garlic to arouse passion and increase the likelihood of offspring. Ancient cultures revered garlic for its medicinal purposes. Some even thought it was an aphrodisiac. As I write this, this weekend, thousands of people will gather in Gilroy, California for the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, estimated to attract over 100,000 people this year. 

Research shows that garlic does have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties and that it lowers the risk of heart disease. In China, Italy and Korea, where garlic appears to have disease-inhibiting properties, average consumption is about 8 to 12 cloves per person per day. While that may sound like a lot, you can increase your intake to 4 to 6 cloves a day simply by cooking with garlic at most dinners and some lunches. The health properties may just be an added benefit to the deliciousness of the “stinking rose.”

Lox and Cream Cheese Spread with Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Dairy)

1 oz. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 to 2 Tbsp. milk

1 to 2 tsp. finely minced garlic

1 tsp. grated onion 

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

2 oz. smoked salmon, finely minced

Finely mince the tomatoes and set aside.

Place softened cream cheese in a food processor and process with milk until smooth. Add tomato mixture and pulse once or twice. Add the garlic, onion, pepper and parsley and pulse once or twice. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more milk.

Scrape the cheese mixture into a bowl and add the salmon. Blend with a fork until evenly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving. Serve with crackers or croutons. 

Garlicky Mushroom Tart (Dairy)

1 package frozen puff pastry


1 8-oz. package goat cheese or brick-style cream cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

1 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced


2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. olive oil

8 to 10 oz. mixed mushrooms 

3/4 cup roasted garlic cloves, divided

3 scallions, white and green, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

1/4 cup white wine or garlic wine

Defrost the pastry as directed.

For filling, place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until mixed and smooth. Set aside.

For topping, place the butter in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Heat until the butter foams and then add the onions and cook until translucent and just starting to turn golden. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms start to brown. Add half the roasted garlic cloves.* Add seasonings & wine and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside. Heat oven to 425 degrees. 

Place the puff pastry sheet on the prepared cookie sheet 1-inch in around all edges. Spread the filling cheese mixture to the score line. Fold edges up a bit to make a rim, pinching tightly at the corners. Top with the mushroom mixture and remaining garlic. Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Serves 6 to 10.

*To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place peeled cloves in a bowl and toss with about 1 Tbsp. of canola oil. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast until soft and brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Shake the pan a few times to turn the cloves. Let cool.

Quick method — place the garlic cloves in a small heavy saucepan. Cover with canola oil and heat on medium-low until the oil simmers and the cloves turn deep golden and are soft. Do not let the oil boil, just a gentle simmer. Use the oil for salad dressings. Will keep a week in the fridge.

Cedar Planked Salmon with Garlic Lemon and Dill (Pareve)

1 3-lb. whole filet of salmon, or 6 to 8 individual pieces

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 10 large garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup minced fresh dill

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving

Place a large (5 to 7 inches wide and 16 to 20 inches long) untreated cedar plank, or 6 to 8 individual ones, in a clean container (I use an aluminum steam table tray). Fill the container with about 2 to 3 inches of water and place a heavy pot on top of the plank(s). Fill the pot with water to weigh the cedar plank down and keep it submerged. Let soak for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

Pour the olive oil in a medium sized bowl and add the garlic, dill, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Mix well and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the grill on high or make a hot charcoal fire. Place the plank on the fire and close the cover or tent with foil. Let heat for about 5 minutes or until you see smoke.

Brush both sides of the salmon with the olive oil mixture.

Carefully place the salmon on the hot plank. Place the lemon slices on the salmon pieces. Move the plank off direct heat and close the cover. Cook for 10 minutes and then baste with more of the marinade. Cook another 5 minutes and baste again. Repeat in 5 more minutes and check for doneness. If you have an instant read thermometer, the temperature should be about 130 to 135 degrees. The fish should be barely opaque in the middle.

Carefully slide the salmon AND the plank onto a heatproof platter. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and, if you like, dill sauce. Serves 6 to 8.

Garlic and Broccoli Pasta (Dairy or Pareve)

1 lb. dry penne pasta 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

10 to 12 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1 to 2 lbs. broccoli florets

3 Tbsp. finely minced fresh parsley

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the penne. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Let it heat for about 10 seconds. Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper and stir for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and stir-fry until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, if you like, and stir for another minute. Add the parsley and turn off the heat. Toss and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the broccoli mixture, toss and season to taste. Sprinkle with cheese and toss. Serves 4 to 8. Makes a great side dish. You can add any veggies to this!

Summer Squashes with Garlicky Pesto (Dairy)

This is great as a side dish, hot or cold, tossed with pasta or as a salad topper. Use as much or as little garlic as you like.

6 cups julienned or spiralized zucchini and summer squash

1 cup fresh basil, roughly torn

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 to 8 cloves garlic, to taste

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

OPTIONAL: Fresh peas and any other veggies you like

Cut the zucchini and summer squash into matchstick-sized pieces. Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Blanch the vegetables for about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place the basil, parsley, pine nuts garlic and oil into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Remove to a bowl and add the grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Top with grated cheese. Serves 6 to 10.