It's garlic season! Garlic is a once-a-year crop. Planted in the fall, its heads are harvested in June or July. Over the past several years, I've learned to appreciate the large, pungent cloves of freshly-dug local garlic, which are much more flavorful than the puny, withering heads you buy in the supermarket (from last year's crop).
Anne, the owner of Kitchen Conservatory in St. Louis, grows thousands of garlic heads each year and sells them at the store. This is hardneck garlic, which has one row of large cloves around a center stem...no smaller, useless cloves toward the center like the softneck garlic sold in grocery stores.
recipe adapted from Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food
serves 2 as a main dish
large head of garlic, cloves separated & peeled
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 springs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
6 ounces fresh pasta (I used linguini)
4 ounces crumbly goat cheese
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper, to taste
- Slice the garlic thinly.
- Pour the oil into a small pan & add the garlic. Cook over a very low heat for 20-25 minutes, until the garlic is tender, golden, and sweet. Don't burn it or it will turn bitter.
- Add the thyme & red pepper (if using) to the garlic oil after 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until is is al dente, drain, & toss gently with the garlic oil.
- Add crumbled goat cheese & lemon juice and stir gently. Check for seasoning. Add salt & pepper if needed.