I always considered garlic to be nothing more than a flavour. Then in my fourth year of university, I was in the kitchen one night making dinner and began kidding my roommate about her extra-large jar of diced garlic (courtesy of Costco, of course). My roommate who was studying kinesiology at the time, took the opportunity to defend her extra-large jar of garlic and informed me that garlic was actually packed full of nutrition. I had never really given garlic a second thought until that day, but she was right! It doesn’t just enhance the taste of your meal, it enhances our bodies’ health. For starters, some studies suggest that garlic helps with high cholesterol, blood pressure and heart disease. It also helps ward of colon and stomach cancer. Beyond that, Chinese medicine uses the bulb to help with digestion and to kill bacteria.
The absolute coolest thing that I learned though, through my research was about the Ancient Egyptians. Garlic is understood to have been farmed by the Egyptians 5000 years ago. In fact, during the building of the Pyramids, garlic was given to the slaves each day to help ward off illness and keep them strong. The Egyptians also felt garlic guarded them against evil spirits so it was often scattered around pharaohs tombs. Even before beginning a journey in the night, Egyptians would eat garlic intending to ward off the evil spirits with the wretched scent from their breath.
With all that being said, it may not be the best option for date night, but it will sure as heck keep you healthy!
Now, this Roasted Ratatouille recipe does a great job of adding whole cloves of garlic to your diet. It’s a family favourite that my mum found in Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners Cookbook and it also packs a ton of vegetables into your meal. Other than the prep work (chopping mainly), it’s very easy. The garlic bulbs are roasted either in tin foil or in a garlic roasting pan first and then added to the roasted vegetables before serving. If you give it a shot, I’d love to hear what you thought!
Roasted Ratatouille Recipe
[A Favourite Recipe from Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners]
2 heads garlic
2 onions, peeled and cut in wedges
1 medium Asian eggplant, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 small zucchinis, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
2 sweet red peppers, peeled, seeded and cut in wedges
2 sweet yellow peppers, peeled, seeded and cut in wedges
2 cups cherry tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the top quarter off the garlic heads. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil on top. Wrap the garlic heads in tin foil or place them in a garlic roast dish. Cook the garlic in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until very soft and tender.
While the garlic roasts, place the onions, eggplants and zucchini on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the majority of the oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until browned.
While the first tray roasts, place peppers and tomatoes on a separate tray. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, salt and thyme. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until tender. The tomatoes should be juicy still when you take them out.
When everything is cooked, combine in a large serving bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves onto the vegetables and toss gently. Serve hot or at room temperature.