Chosen Bites: Stinking flower

The Jewish people have had a long, tempestuous relationship with garlic.

Wild garlic pesto (photo credit: Courtesy)
Wild garlic pesto
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Talmud suggests that men eat garlic on the Sabbath because Friday was the night devoted to conjugal love. This testimonial from Ezra the Scribe: "garlic promotes love and arouses desire," pretty much says it all but garlic was also used as a means to disgrace Jews with the term "foetor Judaicus," the "Jewish stench" of degeneracy and garlic used as an anti-Semitic stereotype.
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family. Dating back over 6000 years, garlic has been a staple in Asia and the Mediterranean. Used for a variety of medical issues including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and treating infections and cancer, garlic is a useful component in medical laboratories as well as kitchens.
Spring garlic is my favorite. Tender green shoots and a bulb with tiny cloves that do not require peeling and a very soft and sweet garlic flavor makes spring garlic a standard in my spring arsenal.
Normally I would never even pay attention to a recipe that was ALL garlic, but this pesto is sweet and very herbaceous and not overwhelmingly garlicky. It is perfect schmeared on bread, dolloped on grilled steaks or drizzled on fish and pasta. Make a large batch and freeze some for later this summer. Spring Garlic pesto will keep frozen for up to 3 months.
Spring Garlic Pesto1/4 pound spring garlic, beard and tips removed, cut into 2-inch pieces3 basil leaves1/2 cup olive oil1 tablespoon walnuts, toastedKosher saltFreshly ground black pepper
Directions 1. Rough chop the garlic (use the green shoots and bulb) and basil. Place a large pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium high heat. Quickly sear the garlic and basil leaves for about 10 seconds. (this will help keep the color bright green)
2. In a blender, mix the basil, spring garlic, and olive oil. Add the walnuts, salt, and pepper, and continue to blend until smooth.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.