Let me sing you the song of smoked garlic. We went to the farmers market last weekend and my usual veg stall was selling it and, after some reassurance that you treat it just like ordinary garlic when cooking with it, I bought some and discovered that it is the absolute best thing mankind has ever invented and now I’m going to use it in everything until I’m sick of it.
Because its a new ingredient for me I wanted to start out simple and my go to for that is pasta sauces. The first thing we thing we tried was frying about six cloves of it up with two packs of lardons, a white onion and a large red sweet pointed pepper and then adding the red pesto sauce and fresh pasta that we’d also got at the market. Adding smoked garlic and bacon to red pesto turned something I already love into something really amazing and I’ll definitely make it again, maybe adding fresh mushrooms too (my enthusiasm for farmers markets is so Guardian reader of me, it really is). If you’re looking for something impressive and hard to screw up for a romantic meal for two this should make about the right amount and is so easy to prepare while tasting really special.
The obvious next step in experimenting with smoked garlic was to make a Spanish influenced tomato sauce with it as the flavours just beg for tomato. I took the same four starting ingredients and then added a jar of passata and a bay leaf once the onions were translucent and then allowed it to simmer for half an hour (maybe a little longer, as tomato sauces are something I tend to time by taste). This was also delicious, the smokiness of the garlic really bringing the other flavours together well and the sweetness of the pepper counterbalancing the acidity of the tomatoes, and it serves two to four people depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta. I think this would also be a good sauce for topping Spanish Omelette with, or a steak.
Next step is to experiment with soups and see how it affects the flavour of the broth!