I thought now would be as good a time as any to give an ode to the amazing garlic clove. While any time of the year would be worthy, the time of Summer Solstice (on the northern hemisphere and Winter Solstice for the southern hemisphere), is a bit more relevant. I recently heard a wise piece of growing advice that stuck…Garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day of year. Thus, a shout out to the often underrated (yet not too understated), Garlic.
Allium Sativan, garlic as we know it, is in the allium family, related to onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. What a great family! It’s one of those no-brainers to grow as you plant a single garlic glove – on the shortest day of the year – and– on the longest day of the year– you harvest a fresh new head of garlic. Culinary speaking, we easily associate garlic with Italian cuisine, regardless of the fact it has been used in the kitchen around the world for thousands of years. From the Southeast, to Asia, to the Middle East, to Africa, to Central and South America, garlic has been fundamental to the kitchen. Medicinally, it has been consumed from pyramid builders to Hippocrates, with records of them making note of its use for respiratory problems, parasites, and poor digestion, to name a few ailments. These days, it carries the label of being anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, with more recent research claiming it can help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. On a personal level, whenever I feel the beginnings of a cold, I eat a garlic clove (or two). I figure I’d rather take one amazing ingredient (that seems to work), than some random pills that seem to be hit or miss on having an actual result. Thus, to finish with a random fact, the “stinking rose” as it is often referred– Its lovely aromatic smell it imparts on whomever consumes it, can be minimized by consuming fresh parsley- something I am willing to try!
This ode to garlic, comes via my good friend Tracy, as she is responsible for the original recipe and it rocked my Caponata world. Probably helped because she made it with so much love, but nonetheless, it was memorable. This version, Sicilian Eggplant Caponata with Summer Harvest Garlic, great as a simple sauce dish on its own, or on some BBQ pizza, or as a topping to a light summer pasta dish, or on some good bread for bruschetta…the options are limitless and I’ve even had it cold for breakfast and it was delicious. It goes together in a jiff, while incorporating some of the best ingredients of Summer, and pretty darn good for you in the process. Thus, seasonal brilliance! Enjoy.
FOR THE CAPONATA:
2 T. olive oil + 2 T olive oil
1 eggplant, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 14 oz can of good tomatoes (or 2 cups of fresh garden tomatoes, finely chopped + 2T tomato paste)
¼ cup golden raisins
2 T. sherry vinegar (balsamic or cider works as well)
1 T. sugar
1 T. capers, rinsed
1 tsp kosher (or sea) salt
2 T. pine nuts, toasted in dry pan for a few minutes, until slightly golden
1/3 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Fresh ground pepper