Posted on: September 26, 2014

Few ingredients are as versatile and delicious as garlic. While it’s instantly recognized in dishes like cheesy lasagna or a spicy green chili, it’s often in the background notes of dishes you don’t expect, such as Thai papaya salad. But you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen making roasts; garlic is the star of these quick condiments that make main dishes shine.

Pesto: While Pesto is the perfect go-to pasta mixer, try it in stuffed chicken or thinned to a vinaigrette for a green salad. Peppery and earthy, pesto brings a taste of summer to any dish.

Ingredients: 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves; 2 cloves garlic; 1/4 cup pine nuts; 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided; Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste; and 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions: Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and pulse until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If you are using the pesto immediately, add all the remaining oil and cheese and pulse until smooth. If freezing the pesto, transfer to an airtight container and drizzle the remaining oil over the top. Thaw and stir in cheese.

Aioli: Aioli is essentially a mayonnaise; an emulsifying process makes it creamy and smooth. Aioli is a more flavorful substitute for mayo on sandwiches, but it’s also a mouthwatering swap for tartar sauce on your next fish fry.

Ingredients: 3 garlic cloves, chopped; 1 large egg; 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 2 turns freshly ground black pepper; and1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Combine the garlic, egg, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Add the oil in a slow stream and continue to process until the mixture has formed a thick and creamy sauce.

Bruschetta Topping: Known mostly as an appetizer, bruschetta topping can also be used to dress warm or cold pasta. Add a little Parmesan cheese and some shredded chicken the pasta, and bruschetta topping goes from appetizer to main course.

Ingredients: 1/2 baguette or crusty long loaf bread, sliced (12 pieces); 2 large cloves garlic, cracked away from skin; Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling; 3 small plum tomatoes, halved and seeded; 20 fresh basil leaves; and
Coarse salt

Directions: Place bread slices on a broiler pan and char on each side under a high-temp broiler. Rub toasts with garlic cloves and drizzle with oil. Chop seeded tomatoes and place in a small bowl. Thinly slice basil into green confetti and mix with tomatoes. For added garlic flavor, mince garlic cloves and add to basil and tomato mixture. Add a drizzle of oil and a little coarse salt to the bowl and gently toss coat. Scoop topping onto to crunchy bread.