What’s the most unexpected way to use garlic in a dish?

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Welcome to The Takeout’s Garlic Week, our Valentine to the world’s loveliest stink.

Many of us lunge for garlic frequently in the usual ways in our kitchens: garlic bread, pasta sauces, a topping on pizza. But in honor of our favorite flavorful member of the allium family, we decided to think outside the bulb a bit. We asked some chefs and our staff about the unusual ways they utilized garlic—which should actually be part of all meals and recipes, right?


Salad dressing and martini garnish

We use fermented black garlic to make our Caesar dressing as a substitute for anchovies. It adds the richness, depth, and slight funky flavor that anchovies usually provide for the dressing, but allows us to keep it vegetarian. Another application for garlic we use is pickling whole garlic cloves and using it as a garnish for an old school olive gin martini.—Ben Raupp, Executive Chef, The Lanes, Oshkosh, Wisconsin


Chocolate cake

I have added garlic juice to chocolate and olive oil cake—it gives it this real umami flavor that everyone loves, but that no one can figure out. I love to cook with garlic. I mince it up and fry it until it is golden brown and then add a little Maldon salt for the perfect garnish for just about everything; it adds a wonderful texture. When I am under the weather, I’ll steep about five cloves with a sliver of ginger and a sprig of mint!—Jim Tate IV, executive chef, Messhall Kitchen, Los Angeles

Garlic Chèvre

I have used whole heads of garlic as the base of a dish, not as an add-on. I roast whole heads of garlic, cover them in chèvre, and throw them back in the oven until the cheese is warm. Then, I take the heads and grate lemon zest on top, top with a little olive oil—the idea being you squeeze the roasted garlic out so it mixes with the cheese, then scoop it up with crostini. —Adam Biderman, chef-owner, The Company Burger, New Orleans


Sandwich spread

Here are two of my favorites: Poach green garlic in olive oil and purée with egg yolks and lemon for a bright sandwich spread. Also: Shave garlic cloves and fry till crispy. Toss with peanuts, lemon zest, and crispy lentils (soaked, drained and dried and flash fried) and toss into salads or fold into a relish for huge flavor and texture.—Cheetie Kumar, Chef, Garland, Raleigh, N.C.


Fermented garlic honey

Fermented garlic honey is one way we use garlic and our honey from our rooftop beehives. The process is very simple: Peel fresh garlic and lightly crush each clove. This will cause the garlic to create the compound allicin, which will aid in fermentation and also has health benefits of its own. Put the garlic in a glass jar, cover with honey, and let it sit at room temperature. After a few days the garlic will begin to ferment, and the more time you give it, the more mellow and sweet it will become. Use this garlic (and honey) in marinades, vinaigrettes, or just eat it on its own as a cure-all when you’re feeling under the weather.—Michael Spiewak, Chef, The Heritage, Forest Park, Illinois

We can pickle that

Quick-pickled garlic is super easy, and while you can pretend you’re making it as a garnish for Bloody Marys or a charcuterie plate, the cloves honestly get mellow enough to eat on their own.—Kate Bernot, Associate Editor, The Takeout


Microplane it

It’s not unusual, but my favorite way of adding garlic is by grating it on a microplane. I use this for any vinaigrette, marinade, or dressing where you want to add more sharpness and pungency of raw garlic, but you don’t want it to get too crazy. Sometimes you can ruin a meal by biting into a big chunk of garlic. For chimichurri, I like grating garlic, and it dissolves straight into the sauce. We also make a ranch-like dressing with buttermilk, mayo, and cebollita—we microplane garlic into that too. —Alfredo Nogueria, chef, Cane and Table and Cure, New Orleans


Garlic tea

Around this year of year garlic is super popular in Austria, where I am from, as it helps fight of bugs, cold and the flu. I either eat it raw super thinly sliced by itself or with some cured pork fat (lardo). I also steep in water and drink almost like a tea. I add in thyme (which is also super healthy, and a protection against cough, flu and sore throat, etc.) and you can add Meyer lemon or grapefruit and the whole thing tastes a little less healthy!—Bernhard Mairinger, chef/owner Mairinger Bernhard Culinary and former BierBeisl Restaurant, Los Angeles


Blanch it in milk

I have gone through a personal progression with the use of garlic and also a lot of trial and error. Some dishes you want that strong bite of raw garlic, and for others, a more subtle undertone by blanching it in milk is better. —Greg Biggers, chef, Margeaux Brasserie, Chicago


Omelette staple

My dad was a huge garlic fan—if you found his frequent usage of it overpowering, you were free to eat somewhere else. He was a fan not just of the flavor but of the health benefits, so utilized it everywhere he could. My childhood was dotted with hunks of garlic in everything—even at breakfast. In my dad’s elaborate weekend omelette feasts, for example, I might bite into a half-clove of garlic, adding an interesting depth of flavor to the eggs. It’s no wonder that I’m such a garlic fan now—I was pretty much raised on it.—Gwen Ihnat, Deputy Managing Editor, The Takeout