At least I’m not allergic to garlic

This weekend I concluded that I have a dreaded condition which has no cure.

No worries, it’s not a debilitating disease or anything; apparently, after 26 years on this earth, I’ve only just developed a mosquito allergy. You may be thinking that everyone has a mosquito allergy but that is only partly true. Most people do get red itchy bumps that are pure annoyance. Most people do not get dozens of hard swollen purple welts the size of golf balls with itching and redness that last for weeks…like this girl. This happened to me at the end of last summer which I took to be a one-off attack by some crazy beach bug. But it happened again this weekend and after reading up on it, I’ve decided I have Skeeter Syndrome. I am less than amused. My prescription strength hydro-cortisone cream and Benadryl gel caps can only do so much.

After doing some research, I learned that some homeopathic treatments for such a reaction include rubbing the affected area with one of the following: garlic, ice or the inside of a banana peel. As tempting as it may sound to end up smelling like the middle eastern food truck down the street from me, I took one sidelong glance at the bulbs of garlic sitting in my kitchen and decided that a better fate awaited them. So I tied a bag of frozen peas to my leg (it helped, at least for a little while) and went to work.

Garlic on its own is a powerful flavor. In the raw, it has that sharp spicy kick to it that can easily overwhelm your palette. Most recipes call for a quick saute to mellow out that flavor so that it doesn’t overshadow the of other ingredients. However, if you drizzle the whole bulb with some olive oil and roast it in the oven, what you get is almost a different ingredient, entirely. The cloves soften and brown until they are sweet and a bit caramel-y. Pull them out with a fork and you’ve got the perfect spread for toasted bread or a yummy addition to homemade mashed potatoes.

Since I had some chickpeas and fresh veggies on hand, I decided to make some hummus. The roasted garlic in this is fantastic, the smoked paprika lends a hint of warm spiciness and the lemon juice and zest brightens up the overall flavor. Once the summertime heat descends upon us, a light dinner of crudites and hummus hits the spot. I’ll be sure to enjoy mine with a side of bug spray.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 large (19 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

*1 whole bulb of roasted garlic (about 8-12 cloves removed from skin)

1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp water

juice and zest from 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Place the chickpeas and roasted garlic cloves in a food processor (or blender, if you don’t have one) and process until beans are roughly ground. Add water, lemon juice and zest, smoked paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. As the ingredients mix, stream in the olive oil and blend until the mixture reaches a smooth, creamy consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Once in the serving dish, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and dust with smoked paprika for garnish. Best served at room temperature with vegetables and toasted pita.

*Roasted Garlic

1 bulb garlic (or as many as you like)

olive oil

sea salt

aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 400 ۫ To roast the garlic, cut the top from a bulb of garlic and remove any loose papery skin layers, leaving the bulb mostly intact. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Wrap tightly in a square of aluminum. Make a few small slits in the aluminum; you want the garlic to roast, not steam. Roast in the oven for about an hour or until the garlic is soft and browned on top. You can do this with as many bulbs as you want but be sure to wrap each one in its own foil pouch. Once roasted, the cloves can be removed easily with a fork or by squeezing the bottom of the bulb.

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