Garlic is a spice that adds zest to everything from pasta to vegetables to simple buttered bread. And as it turns out, garlic is also pretty good for you.
Garlic came into use more than 6,000 years ago in Central Asia and is a longtime staple of the Mediterranean region, as well as being popular in Europe, Asia and Africa. The Egyptians so prized and believed in the spiritual properties of garlic that they lined the tomb of Tutankhamen with clay models of garlic bulbs. What we know as a table spice was also popular in folklore for warding off vampires and the evil eye. It's also lauded for its aphrodisiac properties, which might seem counterintuitive considering how many people feel shy when they have "garlic breath."
As for the health benefits of garlic, it is believed that the organic compound in garlic called allicin, responsible for the tangy aroma and flavor—is a very powerful antioxidant, so it helps stop the harmful effects of free radicals.
Here's a quick and easy recipe for Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto, with a nice garlicky flavor to liven up your meal, courtesy of About.com. Remove any lingering scent off your hands with Seventh Generation Hand Wash in Lavender, designed to give you a rich lather in a formula free of dyes, triclosan and synthetic fragrances.
Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto
- 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 Tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
Place basil, sunflower seeds, olive oil, Parmesan, butter, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process to a puree, scraping down sides often.
Transfer pesto to a small bowl with a lid. Press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface of the pesto sauce, then seal with the lid. May be refrigerated up to 2 weeks.
Yield: about 1-1/2 cups
To use pesto: Cook 1 pound of pasta in salted water. When pasta is cooked al dente, combine 3/4 cup pesto with 2/3 cup hot pasta water in a large bowl. Drain pasta and add to the bowl. Toss to combine. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss again and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings