Garlic and Italian food seem to go hand-in-hand….in America.
In Italy, it’s a different story. Garlic is one of the things that gets categorized as “pesante” (or heavy/difficult to digest), the concept I discussed in Parmigiano Reggiano Stuffed Onions Wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma. In fact, it’s even been the subject of a recent controversy about garlic-free restaurants in Italy.
Garlic is often used as an oil infusion when preparing a dish. The big pieces will be discarded before serving the dish. This is such a change from what I’m used to, which is garlic being showcased as part of the meal.
I am a proud Garlic Addict. It’s been 12 hours since my last garlic.
And it’s no wonder – I was born in the Garlic Capital of the World! I have a lot of fond memories of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, growing up, which happened the last weekend in July. It was a most anticipated event in a town that went without a movie theater for years. Of course, now Gilroy is a totally different city, and they have one of the largest groups of shopping outlets in all of California, with Super Walmart, Target, Costco, hundreds of outlet shops and many restaurants. This is a far cry from the Gilroy I knew growing up, where Chevy‘s opening was front page news.
The Garlic Festival has remained pretty consistent, though. You knew every Saturday afternoon of the festival, you would hear Sha-Boom play, it would be crazy hot and you’d probably get a sunburn, and when you were old enough, you could join the big crowds around the beer tents and your friend’s parents would let you have some of their contraband “festival punch.” Now, there’s such a hue and cry about local foods and supporting local farmers, and the one thing that I can say about the festival itself is that it definitely supports the community. Thousands of volunteer man-hours go into planning and executing it, and every year those groups get back something for their effort.
Every year that I helped in parking, collecting tickets at the gate, making cotton candy, defrosting squid, buttering garlic bread and chopping up vegetables had a great local group benefiting from my time. Now when I complain about having to pay to get in the years I can’t volunteer, I remind myselfthat it goes towards something bigger.
So when I found these enormous mushrooms last week, I knew I could experience a bit of the festival right here. I made one of my favorite things from the festival as an ode to my beginnings and to wonderful Garlic.
Stuffed Garlic Mushrooms
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 T. butter
1/2c. chunky breadcrumbs
1 head (roasted) garlic
Note: If you want to roast your garlic in the oven, try Elise’s detailed recipe. I cheated because I didn’t want the oven on more than necessary, and I used the microwave. There are a lot of discussions about this – I would warn you to keep a close eye on it and not use full power. My “sawed-off” garlic head only took about 2 minutes in the microwave, and I took it out halfway to baste it with the olive oil.
- Prepare the roasted garlic as desired and set aside, being careful that it doesn’t dry out. Brush the dirt off the mushrooms with a paper towel, and remove the stalks by grasping the head and gently rotating the stalk.
- Chop up the garlic and the mushroom stalks. Saute garlic in 1T. butter and add mushroom stalks. After partially cooked, add bread crumbs/chunks, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add sage leaves and remaining butter and cook another 2-3 minutes. After the mixture cools, add small chunks of chopped parmigiano reggiano.
- Put mushroom heads in the oven (200C/400F) for 15 minutes to partially cook them with a sliver of butter. (note: you may need less if they aren’t as big as these ones). Fill them with the mixture and return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until browned on top.
What’s your take on garlic? Like it, love it, avoid it? What’s your favorite dish made with garlic?
Some other bloggers’ recipes to get your garlic fix!