Garlic in our diet is often touted as a cure all, especially to fortify us against winter ills – but cooking it diminishes its healing chemistry, so here is a handy and very tasty way to get your raw on.
Quick blitz Raw Garlic Pesto – To a blender or food processor add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 cup of basil, 1/3 cups grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, 1 tablespoon of pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of black pepper. Quick whizz. Depending on the moisture levels in the basil – If too thick add a drop of water or a little extra oil to loosen to a preferred consistency. Will keep in fridge for a few days but best consumed within 3 days.
Some of the reticence to use fresh garlic is that it can linger on the breath – but chlorophyll binds to sulphur compounds and helps neutralize much of the odour. So making a raw garlic pesto is not only availing of the raw but it’s using basil with plenty of chlorophyll to make it much easier to consume and stay social.
Health benefits: Garlic’s botanical name is Allium sativum – ‘allium’ reminds us that it is in the onion family and has that particular flavour and aroma profile – which is due to its potent content of sulphur compounds. Those compounds can correct the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut biome, balance the good and bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, cleanse and strengthen red blood cells and improve the efficiency of white blood cells – so a big health kick. It also contains selenium and zinc, two mineral drivers of our immune system and utilized in how our body repairs and replenishes itself.
sativum denotes ‘cultivated’ and it has been welcomed and sustained as culinary and medicinal crop for thousands of years. Garlic features in both Mesopotamian writings and Egyptian art from 3000 B.C. and in every herbal written since – most of that context was as healing agent; Topically used to remedy fungal infections and even employed in oils as a hair cosmetic but most popular of all – eaten to bring vigour and vitality.
If I may add a modern caveat – garlic increases immune function and so moderation/ caution is required if you have an autoimmune condition. That doesn’t mean avoid altogether, it just means not every day.