Kitchen Survival Guide: Garlic

Let’s talk about garlic.

Few foods inspire such a love-hate relationship in the kitchen. If you’ve spent hours peeling its flaky skin or scrubbing its pungent scent from your fingers, you know the pain I mean. But it’s hard to avoid: while garlic belongs to the onion family alongside milder chives, leeks, and shallots, there’s no substitute for its strong flavor.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks of the trade to help you cook like a pro – and get the better of this stinky bulb.

Tip 1: How to Peel Garlic in Seconds

This easy step takes the agony out of peeling garlic. Pull a single clove off of the head. With the flat side of a wide kitchen knife, press down on the flat side of the clove. It will crack lightly, and you’ll be able to pry the skin off easily.

If you’re a kitchen gadget nerd like I am, this garlic peeler also works well.

Tip 2: How to De-Garlic Your Fingers

Don’t wash your hands with soap: rub them on stainless steel. As crazy as it sounds, this trick works. Garlic owes its strong odor to sulfur-based compounds. These compounds conveniently bind to metals. Like magic, if you wipe your hands on your kitchen sink or on this bar of stainless steel, the smell is gone immediately. It works for onions, too!

Tip 3: How to Roast Garlic

Raw garlic is pungent, but roasted garlic is nutty and sweet. By roasting it, you can reduce its kick and still capture its distinctive flavor. Ellie Krieger’s recipe is foolproof, and the perfect start for making milder garlic dishes like Michael Chiarello’s Roasted Garlic Bread.

Eager to show off your new garlic skills? Here’s some inspiration: a simpler variation of Giada De Laurentis’s White Bean Dip with Pita Chips. It’s the perfect dish for easy entertaining, especially as the holidays draw near!

Roasted Garlic White Bean Dip

1 15-oz can of Cannellini beans
1 head of roasted garlic
Juice from 1 lemon
3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp of salt
Ground pepper

In a food processor or blender, add the beans, roasted garlic cloves, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth. Finish with a twist of pepper and serve with pita chips, pita bread or crostini.

Tip: If you don’t have a lemon, white wine vinegar works in a pinch! And for a more sophisticated twist, blend in a few springs of rosemary.